Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most unfathomable composers in the history of music. How can such sublime work have been produced by a man who seems so ordinary, so opaque - and occasionally so intemperate?
In this remarkable book, John Eliot Gardiner distils the fruits of a lifetime's immersion as one of Bach's greatest living interpreters. Explaining in wonderful detail how Bach worked and how his music achieves its effects, he also takes us as deeply into Bach's works and mind as perhaps words can. The result is a unique book about one of the greatest of all creative artists.
'Gardiner is the supreme interpreter of Bach in our time . . . extraordinarily vivid . . . brings us into the very presence of the man. A must read.' Raymond Tallis, The Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year
'Magisterial . . . an awesome achievement.' Richard Morrison, The Times
'Tremendous . . . sets the life and the music in a historical perspective where every detail is relevant and every comment illuminating. Simply as a biography this is splendid, but the fact that it comes with such a wealth of musical understanding and experience makes it invaluable.' Philip Pullman
'There could be no better-qualified guide to the mysteries behind Bach's music than the conductor who has breathed new life into its performance . . . this book will now be required reading.' Michael Church, Independent
'Made me want to rush and listen to all the music he writes about, whether familiar or unfamiliar . . . wonderful.' Sir Simon Rattle
'Highly personal and passionate . . . A profound and deeply scholarly investigation of the roots and nature of Bach's extraordinary art . . . sure to be found on the bookshelves of Bach-lovers for many years to come.' Adam Lively, Sunday Times
Gardiner has joined the select ranks of luminary musicians articulating their experience, with this long, sumptuously illustrated survey of Bach's life and times. The result is dazzling -- Iain Burnside Observer There could be no better-qualified guide to the mysteries behind Bach's music than the conductor who has breathed new life into its performance ... As an exploration of Bach's labyrinthine thought-processes, and as an analysis of his music's overwhelming power, this book will now be required reading ... for listeners and performers alike -- Michael Church Independent Gardiner weaves industrial-strength scholarship, musical analysis and performing insight into a highly readable narrative ... extraordinary -- Richard Morrison The Times