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Reinventing Bach

Paul Elie.
Publisher FSG  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
ISBN 9780374281076
Pages/Publication Date 498/2012
Daedalus Item Code 61251
This item is not available.
(Finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism) In his remarkable second book, following The Life You Save May Be Your Own (also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), Paul Elie explores parallel evolutions in music and technology through the invention and continual reinvention of the music of J.S. Bach. Though he lived in Germany 300 years ago, Bach worked on the technological frontier of his day—restoring pipe organs, inventing new and highly sophisticated instruments, and perfecting the tempered tuning system still in use today. Tracing Bach's life and the innovations of his career, Elie shows how, with the advent of modern recording equipment in the past century, musicians have turned again and again to the work of this musical pioneer and remade it for subsequent generations.

"A well-informed and empathetic biography of Bach, intercut with lively accounts of five pioneering performers who made famous Bach recordings: Albert Schweitzer, Pablo Casals, Leopold Stokowski, Glenn Gould and Yo-Yo Ma. Linking them through their love of Bach is intriguing, even if in other respects they are slightly strange bedfellows. Elie interweaves their stories, cutting-and-pasting them into a vivid mosaic.... Elie is an acute and passionate listener, writing sensitively about music's impact on him." —Independent (London)

"Fascinating and engagingly written, [this book] emphasizes that Bach—whose greatness as a composer, for Mr. Elie, is 'total and inviolable'—was also a pioneer of technology: not just a master organist but a master organ builder and repairer; a theoretician who investigated the possibilities of a tuning system that changed the way music sounds and is still in use; a composer who embraced the art of transcription and would not have minded at all, and maybe anticipated, that his pieces would one day be reconceived for Moog synthesizers and small ensembles of swinging, scatting singers.... [Elie] writes beautifully about music ... the book is a page-turner with astute accounts of Bach's life folded in."—NYTimes

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