John Eliot Gardiner, Music in the Castle of Heaven—A portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach . Allen Lane, London 2013/2014, 672 pp. ISBN 9780713996623 (hb.) and ISBN 9780141977591 (pb.). £30/ £10.99. One of the fascinating aspects of music from the past (pre-recording era) is that it is transmitted to us in encoded language (sc. music notation) and that reliable indications about the way to interpret it get scarcer the more ancient the music gets. We think we understand romantic composers; baroque composers are from a different era. But the code has to be cracked, for music on paper alone is no music. There have to be sounds. Every performing musician has to decide which sounds to produce to make that music ‘happen,’ to give it a real presence in our lives today. The score is not the music, the performance is. But how can the performer be sure that his decoding is correct, that he is playing ‘Bach’ and not something else? What is correct? And can we know? These are the questions musicologists deal with and on which they hardly ever agree. However, one thing is certain: when music happens the subjectivity of the performer is a crucial
Church History and Religious Culture (formerly Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2015
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