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Bach: A Musical Biography
by Peter Williams
718 pages
Cambridge University Press
Release Date: October 27, 2016

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While not yet widely reviewed, this unconventional biography of Johann Sebastian Bach was written by one of the world’s leading experts on Bach and author of the 2007 “J.S. Bach: A Life in Music.”  Williams died in March of this year (on the eve of Bach’s birthday) at the age of 78 shortly after reading a final draft of this book.

Third-party reviews and links (some sites may require subscription):

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From the publisher:

“J. S. Bach composed some of the best-loved and most moving music in Western culture. Surviving mostly in manuscript collections, his music also exists in special and unique publications that reveal much about his life and thoughts as a composer. In this book, Peter Williams, author of the acclaimed J. S. Bach: A Life in Music, revisits Bach’s biography through the lens of his music. Reviewing all of Bach’s music chronologically, Williams discusses the music collection by collection to reveal the development of Bach’s interests and priorities. While a great deal has been written about the composer’s vocal works, Williams gives the keyboard music its proper emphasis, revealing it as crucial to Bach’s biography, as a young organist and a mature composer, as a performer in public and teacher in private, and as a profound thinker in the language of music.

  • Examines and questions the received views on Bach’s biography, employing the latest research
  • Reviews and looks anew at some of the best-loved and most moving music in western culture
  • Gives appropriate emphasis to Bach’s keyboard music to show for the first time how and why this was such a major priority”
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