• by John Eliot Gardiner
  • Narrated by Antony Ferguson
  • 21 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 (when we can discern his personality at all) seems so ordinary, so opaque - and occasionally so intemperate? John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of the only two authentic portraits of Bach every morning and evening on the stairs of his parents’ house, where it hung for safety during World War II. He has been studying and performing Bach ever since, and is now regarded as one of the composer's greatest living interpreters. The fruits of this lifetime's immersion are distilled in this remarkable book, grounded in the most recent Bach scholarship but moving far beyond it, and explaining in wonderful detail the ideas on which Bach drew, how he worked, how his music is constructed, how it achieves its effects - and what it can tell us about Bach the man.
Gardiner's background as a historian has encouraged him to search for ways in which scholarship and performance can cooperate and fruitfully coalesce. This has entailed piecing together the few biographical shards, scrutinizing the music, and watching for those instances when Bach's personality seems to penetrate the fabric of his notation. Gardiner's aim is "to give the reader a sense of inhabiting the same experiences and sensations that Bach might have had in the act of music-making. This, I try to show, can help us arrive at a more human likeness discernible in the closely related processes of composing and performing his music." It is very rare that such an accomplished performer of music should also be a considerable writer and thinker about it. John Eliot Gardiner 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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great book .... terrible narration!

A wonderful book written by one of today's leading authorities on Bach. But my God , the narration - probably the most wooden I have ever heard. It actually sounds like one of those computer generated narrations at times. Eventually, I purchased the print book; it was the only way to really enjoy it.
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- R. Millington

Music except the reading

What did you like most about Bach?


Who was your favorite character and why?


What didn’t you like about Antony Ferguson’s performance?

Was it read by a computer? Pace, pronunciation, emphasis all shows ignorance of the subject matter, and no effort to understand the meaning of what was read. There are many excellent out of work actors who should have done the reading.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Profound insights from the author.

Any additional comments?

The reading is shameful, and I am sure horrified John Eliot Gardiner when he heard it. A computer would have read it better....

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- Mark

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-09-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios