J. S. Bach | Albert Schweitzer

  • J.S. Bach –2 vols– © 1905 (French), 1908 (German), 1911 (English)
  • Adam & Charles Black
  • 428+498 = 926 pages

If you have some classical music training and a serious love for Bach, then this book’s for you. I was surprised by this work. Before spotting it on the shelf of a second hand bookstore in Gravenhurst, Ontario, I had no idea that Mr. Quest-for-the-Historical-Jesus himself had written about Bach.

I was even more surprised by the depth. Schweitzer begins with Bach’s ancestors and doesn’t stop until he’s analyzed Bach’s entire corpus in detail. I loved how the pages are rife with staves that illustrate the various motives Schweitzer explains.

Schweitzer’s critical at times, but respectful. Any artist a quarter as prolific as Bach is bound to write the odd stinker. Schweitzer praises Bach’s genius and criticizes his lackluster efforts with an honest ear. The author’s spirituality also plays an understated-yet-positive role in the book. You can tell that Schweitzer respects the religious milieu of the subject he’s writing about.

This work is meaty, with just under 1000 pages of detail. If you’re up for the challenge, the payoff’s great.

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