Besides composing, Bach worked throughout his life as an organist, teacher, and choirmaster. A figure of relative obscurity in his lifetime compared with his contemporary Handel, he seldom left the region of eastern Germany where he was born. Bach was a member of a distinguished musical family who became an orphan at the age of nine; he would marry twice and father twenty children, four of whom became famous as composers in their own right. His keyboard music was an influence on later composers from the time of Mozart onward; his large-scale works were famously rediscovered by the Romantics in the early nineteenth century. In this highly acclaimed study, biographical chapters alternate with commentary on the works, demonstrating how the circumstances of Bach's life helped to shape the music he wrote at various periods. In addition to presenting a rounded picture of Bach, his music, and his posthumous reputation and influence, Malcolm Boyd considers the sometimes controversial topics of Bach's "recycling" of musical material, his use of number symbolism, and the style and meaning of his late works.
"Boyd's informed and judicious work, the 20th in the 'Cambridge Music Handbook' series, is a must for those wishing to catch up with the latest scholarship dealing with this celebrated set of 'six concertos for several [different] instruments.'" Choice