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Bach Books

The True Life of J.S. Bach
by Klaus Eidam

 

 

Book

1

The True Life of J.S. Bach

Klaus Eidam / English translation by Hoyt Rogers

Basic Books

1999

413 pp

Buy this book at: Amazon.com

The “True” story of JSB?

Harry J. Steinman wrote (July 20, 2001):
Amazon.com sent me an ad touting a book by Klaus Eidam called, "The True Life of J.S. Bach".

Anybody familiar with this book?

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 20, 2001):
[To Harry J. Steinman] I spent about 40 minutes with it in a bookshop last Sunday to see what it was like. During that time I was able to determine that it's basically a sensationalist piece of trash. (OK, maybe not quite that bad, but definitely not anything to be taken very seriously.) The author pokes fun at the conclusions of real scholars with a tone like, "What WERE they thinking?" He makes some entertaining and possibly useful historical connections, so the book is maybe worth at least half a read in that direction, but some of it is also pretty vacuous and repetitious.

For example, I counted three separate places in the book where he scoffs at scholars who connect the WTC with Fischer's "Ariadne musica", and asserts that anybody who connects those two must not have looked at the music very closely. Yet he hasn't noticed himself the most painfully obvious connection: Fischer's E-major fugue and Bach's WTC2 E-major fugue have the same subject.

I guess the value in the book, if any, is to get people thinking about history in new ways. That seems to be a fad these days in books about the Holy Grail and whatnot: connect lots of points of history that usually aren't connected, and see what conclusions can be drawn.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 20, 2001):
[To Harry J. Steinman] No, but I contacted the published and will be getting a review copy in a week or so. Stay tuned.

Nicholas Baumgarner wrote (July 20, 2001):
[To Harry J. Steinman & Bradley Lehman] I've read through Eidam's book (in German, however, not English) and cannot quite go so far as to label it a "sensationalist piece of trash." True, the title reveals the book's fundamental flaw--so much in the text purports to be the "truth." Of course, as everybody knows now, we in the late 20th century know everything better than everybody else ever did, so scholars today are completely justified in telling us the "truth." ;)

A serious comment, however: I believe this book must be understood in the context within which Eidam wrote it. He grew up during the GDR, and published it in the wake of 1989. I find his writing reflects a view not uncommon among musicians I know in the former GDR (without offending anyone!!!) who harbor a particularly possessive view of Bach. Understandable, as Bach hardly ever left the confines of what became the GDR, but that fact does not necessarily lend former citizens of the GDR a more insightful view of Bach--though perhaps it might in some cases. For excellent commentary on that subject, see Gilles Cantagrel's two books on Bach (particularly Le moulin et la riviere). But reading Eidam's book mindful of the shadow cast on his conclusions by the former GDR may indeed open the reader's mind.

Christoph Wolff now deserves a comment too. Despite that his is obviously the superior biography, I agree with John Butt, who wrote in the New Republic a year ago that at times Wolff goes a bit too far in his praise--e.g., by comparing the novel idea of using the thumb in keyboard playing with the invention of calculus. A comparison to the invention of the wheel is not far off then, right? ;) On the other hand, Wolff's apparent rejection of the 90's trend of deconstructing traditional greats, such as Goethe and Wagner, evident in his pervasive praise of Bach, is rather enjoyable. After all, it's Bach.

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 20, 2001):
[To Nicholas Baumgartner] I agree with you, it's not quite as sensationalist as my first posting suggested yesterday. That GDR context is helpful (thanks!) in understanding it.

Still, the tone of the book really put me off. It reminded me of those really annoying prime-time television shows we have here where they probe into some news item and try to show the seamy side of things and outrage us, to keep us from going away during the adverts. Candy journalism, not real scholarship...and I thought the author had a habit of pushing his incredulity way too far (incredulity at anything established by conventional scholarship, that is). In the end, what's the point except to make the reader (or TV viewer) think a little, while not really ending up much more informed than he was to begin with?

The author's actual musical understanding didn't seem very deep, either. I didn't notice any analytical insights that an average 16-year-old music student would not already know. (Again that lowest common denominator of sensational TV.) What's the point of buying a book about music if it's not going to deepen one's understanding of the music, beyond being entertained with a biography?

Nicholas Baumgarner wrote (July 20, 2001):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks for the response. With respect to Eidam's musical understanding, I have to side with you. Eidam in a way reveals more about himself and the social context in which he was brought up than he does about Bach.

Personally, my current favorite JSB book remains Butt's Cambridge Companion to Bach. As you know, not only do we have the benefit of Butt's packaging, but we are able to view Bach through the lenses of other excellent scholars.

For another excellent read try Bernard Sherman's Inside Early Music (Oxford 1997). Not all about JSB, but wonderfully insightful and tastefully written.

BTW, does anyone know about a message board/list like this one, but dedicated to Bach in general? I imagine most members here are also members of the Cantata list; often it seems that discussions have the potential to take off in directions not necessarily related to cantatas and recordings (e.g., biographies, scholarship, etc). (For a really effective list, see Porsche Pete's Boxster Board.)

Non-review – The True Life of J.S. Bach by Klaus Eidam / Translation and performance

Kirk McElhearn
wrote (August 6, 2001):
A couple of weeks ago, the first comments on this recently-published book came to the list; I think it was from one of our German list members who had read the book in its original version. I promptly contacted the publisher to get a review copy, so I could share with you the merits and demerits of this book.

Alas, I received the book last week, and read no more than 15 pages. The translation is so bad that I could not go on. The poorly-constructed sentences (that read like German, according to my translator colleagues who know the language) were like potholes bouncing me as I progressed along the road of reading.

I therefore recommend that you avoid this book like the plague. While the content may be interesting, or at least different, you will find it far too annoying to read. It is a shame, and a surprise, that a major publisher has allowed a book like this to go into print.

BTW, I sent a message to the publisher's press person with my comments, but have not had any reply yet.

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 6, 2001):
Agreed, that translation reads like German. But remember, my objection to the Eidam book was that it reads more like bad tabloid television than like serious work.... Either way, the book is objectionable!

I'm not all that surprised it was published, though. People will buy it. Therefore the publisher puts it out there to make some money.

Your observation brings up an interesting point. The way you're bothered by bad translation (since it's your profession), I'm bothered when recorded performances totally miss the French or Italianate style in Bach's music where it's French or Italianate. If the performer makes it sound like just so much generic Germanic music, or something else, it's like an inadequatetranslation: unidiomatic in the target language. And that irks me since it's my profession to be able to "play this in French" or "play this in Italian" or what-have-you! If Bach is imitating style X, the performer must also be able to play in X to let it sound like what Bach was trying to achieve.

Musical performance and language translation are similar crafts and arts.

Have you read Douglas Hofstadter's Le ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language? I'm only part way through it myself yet. But it's about the general difficulty and art of translating levels of meaning from one system into another. Do you translate the words, or the sentiment, or the culture, or the thought pattern, or the effect within the culture, or what? The translator always has difficult choices, just as the musical performer does.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (August 6, 2001):
< Brad Lehman wrote: Agreed, that translation reads like German. But remember, my objection to the Eidam book was that it reads more like bad tabloid television than like serious work.... Either way, the book is objectionable!
I'm not all that surprised it was published, though. People will buy it. Therefore the publisher puts it out there to make some money. >
No, not surprised that it was published, but surprised that it was published
without an editor attacking it with a blue pencil.

< Your observation brings up an interesting point. The way you're bothered by bad translation (since it's your profession), I'm bothered when recorded performances totally miss the French or Italianate style in Bach's music where it's French or Italianate. If the performer makes it sound like just so much generic Germanic music, or something else, it's like an inadequate translation: unidiomatic in the target language. And that irks me since it's my profession to be able to "play this in French" or "play this in Italian" or what-have-you! If Bach is imitating style X, the performer must also be able to play in X to let it sound like what Bach was trying to achieve.
Musical performance and language translation are similar crafts and arts. >
Yes, I totally agree. With one difference - while there are many performances of a given musical work, there are relatively few of any literary work (with the exception of the great classics, such as Homer). But, yes, translators are interpreters, and I often compare it to music.

< Have you read Douglas Hofstadter's Le ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language? I'm only part way through it myself yet. But it's about the general difficulty and art of translating levels of meaning from one system into another. Do you translate the words, or the sentiment, or the culture, or the thought pattern, or the effect within the culture, or what? The translator always has difficult choices, just as the musical performer does. >
Amazing book. It truly presents the myriad difficulties and interests inherent in translation.

As to what to translate, the ideal translation would be one that retains all of the above. But this is never possible - there is too much context that differs. BTW, I corresponded with Hofstadter briefly, and he confirmed his refusal to allow the above book to be translated into any language. It is almost untranslatable, at least parts of it are.

If interested, have a glance at my page on literary translation: http://www.mcelhearn.com/lit.html

One book, Performing Without a Stage might interest you.

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 6, 2001):
< Kirk McElhearn wrote: [Douglas Hofstadter's Le ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language?] Amazing book. It truly presents the myriad difficulties and interests inherent in translation.
As to what to translate, the ideal translation would be one that retains all of the above. But this is never possible - there is too much context that differs. BTW, I corresponded with Hofstadter briefly, and he confirmed his refusal to allow the above book to be translated into any language. It is almost untranslatable, at least parts of it are. >
Yep, I understand his unwillingness to let it be translated...that would really be a meta-translation, and inordinately difficult!

I asked him a few years ago if he'd give permission for me to put up his "Person Paper on Purity in Language" (from Metamagical Themas) as a web site. It's rather along the same lines. He took a look at the formatted page I had prepared, and decided to deny permission...that essay needs to remain in the context of the book, even though it would give his work greater exposure if on the web. On the web, formatting and context are inevitably lost. I understand and respect his artistic decision to say no.

And of course there's also the French and German versions of Carroll's Jabberwocky" in Goedel, Escher, Bach.

Jim Morrison wrote (August 6, 2001):
So long as we're talking about Hofstadter, I thought I'd give credit where it was due, and say that his book Goedel, Escher, Bach was what inspired me to take Bach seriously for the first time. I was a college undergraduate who'd never heard much classical music, though I was studying math and philosophy, and Hofstadter was writing about The Musical Offering like it was one of the greatest creations he'd ever come across. I just had to check that Bach guy out. I never did learn to read music, and so the Musical Offering, and a large portion of just what is classical music, lays forever beyond me keen, but I still have Hofstadter to thank to making me turn seriously to classical music. Without that book, who knows when I would have turned to classical music, or who the composer I first studyed would have been. Any idea if that's unusual? For a person first coming to classical music to focus on one composer? Bach has been my man since day one.

I haven't read his book on translation. (Having only a primitive ability in another language, I didn't think the book would have much relevance to me, but maybe my library has it. I'll see if I can find it.)

Another book that may touch on the more poetical side of translation is _Reading Rilke_ by William Gass. While only occasionally touching upon serious translation issues, there is a fine section in the book where he takes a few lines of Rilke's and compares and contrasts about 10 different translations. The book is also a sort of biography of Rilke and contains a complete translation by Gass of Rilke's Duino Elegies.

Funny that Hofstadter thinks that the essay Brad mentioned needed to remain in the context of the book, because, if memory serves me right this morning, that book is a collection of essays published over a few years, and so, the essay more than likely appeared as a stand-alone article.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (August 6, 2001):
< Jim Morrison wrote: So long as we're talking about Hofstadter, I thought I'd give credit where it was due, and say that his book Goedel, Escher, Bach was what inspired me to take Bach seriously for the first time. >
Likewise, that and the extraordinary novel by Richard Powers, The Gold Bug Variations. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060975008/kirkmcelhearnA/

If you haven't read this, it is a must!

Bradley Lehman wrote (Auust 6, 2001):
[To Jim Morrison] Yes, those essays were originally columns in Scientific American, and the "Person Paper" says it was in Sept 1983. The Metamagical Themas version then updates and comments on them.

Perhaps Hofstadter didn't want that paper reproduced on the web since it would then certainly fall into the hands of people who can't understand satire. And then where would his reputation be? (Satire misunderstood by the clueless can really create problems.)

Or perhaps it's as simple as the book MT still being under copyright. There might be legal troubles if substantial excerpts turn up on the web....

Jim Morrison wrote (August 7, 2001):
< Likewise, that and the extraordinary novel by Richard Powers, The Gold Bug Variations : http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060975008/kirkmcelhearnA/
If you haven't read this, it is a must! >
Agreed. It's been a while since I read it (and sadly it's one of those books you lend out and people don't return before either they or you move) but I remember it as being excellent. I hear his Galatea 2.2 is good as well (which is on my shelf and waiting my attention.)

I remember particularly his ability to dramatize how classical music recordings can affect people's lives. And if I'm not mistaken, there's constant hints that one of the recordings in question is Gould's 55 Goldberg's, but Gould is never specifically named. I really must look into replacing that book.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (August 7, 2001):
< Jim Morrison wrote: I remember particularly his ability to dramatize how classical music recordings can affect people's lives. And if I'm not mistaken, there's constant hints that one of the recordings in question is Gould's 55 Goldberg's, but Gould is never specifically named. I really must look into replacing that book. >
Yes, that is exactly it. And he does manage to express the emotional side of music very well.

I have read all of his books, and, with the exception of the latest, which I am reading and find a bit slow, they are all excellent.


Eidam spikes gematria

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 10, 2005):
While looking up some things about the Well-Tempered Clavier and Art of Fugue, in Klaus Eidam's biography of Bach, I ran across Eidam's humorous skewering of cabalistic/gematric symbolism:
http://tinyurl.com/8c2c7 (pp138-40) and
http://tinyurl.com/8b598 (pp339-40).

Eidam's writing gets giddy-silly to make his point, and some of it made me laugh out loud. I especially like his wry comment, after he has presented some outlandish but typical dogma about sharps and naturals, "It is deeply regrettable that to this day musicology still has not deciphered the theological meaning of the accidental musical flat symbol b."

The links go to Google Print -- create an account if necessary, to see those pages.

"People who believe in the significance of such numeric relationships in music are victims of a fundamental error: that written notes and music are identical. But music obeys a simple formula: What we do not hear is not music." - Eidam, p340

Tom Dent wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To Bradley Lehman] I thought the 3 flat signs of the Clavierubung Part III were supposed to refer to the 3 persons of the Trinity. Eidam, to judge by your quotation, is a vigorous thrower of bathwater, but may not have the subtle perception to see an infant therein.

Music's message to the audience is, indeed, sound; but the composer's message to the player(s) is inescapably graphical - whether or not the composer consciously intends to use visual properties of a score. Is the well-publicised business of the 'Kreuz' motif (cross-shaped patterns of 4 notes) pure coincidence in all cases?

The tinyurls don't seem to yield anything.

Setting aside gematrian and suchlike debates, how accurate do list members who have read him believe Eidam to be? Does he provide source references? Tomita says not.
http://www.music.qub.ac.uk/tomita/bachbib/review/bb-review_Eidam-TLJSB.html

The book's apparent features - claims contradicting most current scholarship, plus lack of verifiable references - are not particularly encouraging. Is he, in fact, a polemicist like Mattheson? (cue gasps of horror...)

To be sure, the fact that he may have had access to previously-not-considered east German materials makes it conceivable that he could get somewhere.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 12, 2005):
< I thought the 3 flat signs of the Clavierubung Part III were supposed to refer to the 3 persons of the Trinity. Eidam, to judge by your quotation, is a vigorous thrower of bathwater, but may not have the subtle perception to see an infant therein. >

[The True Life of Johann Sebastian Bach by Klaus Eidam, 1999 German, 2001 English]

At the beginning of chapter 24, p291, Eidam treats that same alleged "Trinity" fugue. "The fugue, in E-flat major, has become known as the St. Anne or the Trinity Fugue, in allusion to its triple character---three themes are separately introduced and then interwoven with each other. Since there are three themes, Schweitzer posited the reference to the divine Trinity, not without carefully distancing himself from the idea: He states that an organist (unnamed) drew his attention to the correlation. Rueger then expands on the insinuation in his Bach biography, pointing out that not only the fugue but also the prelude is tripartite. The structural observations are correct, but identifying the work as a detailed portrayal of the central Christian belief undoubtedly goes too far. With complete impartiality, we might conceivably recognize the first fugal theme as the ascent of God's spirit from the depths. But if the second theme depicts Jesus Christ, we have him speeding by on roller-skates, and the third evokes a Holy Ghost who clanks along like a knight in armor."

He then goes on, a couple pages later, into the question why Bach wrote so many cantatas.

Eidam's procedure that I've seen so far is that he puts up romanticized legends, and other biographers by name, like a row of straw-men, and then he knocks them all off with irreverent jokiness...instead of providing references.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 12, 2005):
Tom Dent wrote:
< I thought the 3 flat signs of the Clavierubung Part III were supposed to refer to the 3 persons of the Trinity. >
Maybe, maybe not, but why flats? Why not 3 of anything that's convenient? I don't think it's a very important point.

< Eidam, to judge by your quotation, is a vigorous thrower of bathwater, but may not have the subtle perception to see an infant therein. >
I read some other parts of the book, months ago, and wasn't terribly impressed; but I still found his gematria-spiking humorous and entertaining a few days ago, exactly as I said. It's not fair to judge the whole thing by just a handful of quotations anyway. I still want to read the rest of it.

< Music's message to the audience is, indeed, sound; but the composer's message to the player(s) is inescapably graphical - whether or not the composer consciously intends to use visual properties of a score. Is the well-publicised business of the 'Kreuz' motif (cross-shaped patterns of 4 notes) pure coincidence in all cases? >
Well, what do you think about its putative use all through the keyboard partita #6 in E minor? Why would anything allegedly symbolic be there? Or in Herrmann Keller's analysis of WTC 1 C# minor fugue, harking back to the Crucifixus of a Kerll mass, and harking forward to the St Matthew and John passions?

Keller himself didn't catch, or at least didn't make any point of, the "fact" that there's an enharmonic B-A-C-H in that same C# minor fugue, 20+ years ahead of Die Kunst.

< The tinyurls don't seem to yield anything. >
They still work for me, today. They go into "Google Print" searches for the book. Or one can go there separately, on the author's name....
> > http://tinyurl.com/8c2c7 (pp138-40) and
> > http://tinyurl.com/8b598 (pp339-40).

< Setting aside gematrian and suchlike debates, how accurate do list members who have read him believe Eidam to be? Does he provide source references? Tomita says not. http://www.music.qub.ac.uk/tomita/bachbib/review/bb-review_Eidam-TLJSB.html
The book's apparent features - claims contradicting most current scholarship, plus lack of verifiable references - are not particularly encouraging. Is he, in fact, a polemicist like Mattheson? (cue gasps of horror...) >
Eidam certainly promotes the triumph of equal temperament (in several places), and his descriptions of unequal options are woefully thin, which was the first thing I checked to see what the "true life" would yield. And his title about the "true life" of Bach looks ralike an affront against Spitta, Boyd, et al.

See also the reviews at: Amazon.com

< To be sure, the fact that he may have had access to previously-not-considered east German materials makes it conceivable that he could get somewhere. >
Perhaps.

Tom Dent wrote (November 15, 2005):
Tom Dent wrote:
<< I thought the 3 flat signs of the Clavierubung Part III were supposed to refer to the 3 persons of the Trinity. >>
Brad Lehman wrote:
< Maybe, maybe not, but why flats? Why not 3 of anything that's convenient? I don't think it's a very important point. >
Not on its own, no - though there are an awful lot of obvious 3's in the Clavierubung III. As long as Eidam's rhetorical excursions are not being cited as authority. I was just surprised to see Brad apparently seeking factual information about the WTC and KdF there. Though I might have misread it - merely seeking light relief?

< (...) I still found his gematria-spiking humorous and entertaining a few days ago, exactly as I said. It's not fair to judge the whole thing by just a handful of quotations anyway. I still want to read the rest of it. >
I judge by Tomita's review, he being someone who has no discernable axe to grind. There are reviews in the bach-cantatas.com archive too. Sure, if you've bought it, at least get the full entertainment value!

< Well, what do *you* think about its putative use all through the keyboard partita #6 in E minor? Why would anything allegedly symbolic be there? >
I don't know the reference for that - mainly thinking of discussions concerning the *church* music (prize example Et Incarnatus). Running over the incipits of Partita VI mentally, I'm not convinced. Only the Gigue has an unambiguous 'cross' shape prominently placed - the Toccata's fugue subject is blurred by ornaments.

< Or in Herrmann Keller's analysis of WTC 1 C# minor fugue, harking back to the Crucifixus of a Kerll mass, and harking *forward* to the St Matthew and John passions?
Keller himself didn't catch, or at least didn't make any point of, the "fact" that there's an enharmonic B-A-C-H in that same C# minor fugue, 20+ years ahead of _Die Kunst_. >
The Lutheran fundamentalist Timothy Smith finds *three* BACH's, one in very non-obvious inversion (b.41), and makes quite a song and dance over them: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc/i04.html .

I have no idea what 'harking forward' means; but the musical similarities do not seem random. They indicate at least that the melodic succession 1-#7-b3-2 in vocal music was consciously associated with the idea of crucifixion. Further than that we get very speculative. The great thing about analyzing vocal music is, it already has a surface meaning... the words!

It would be a surprise if Bach's keyboard music was completely void of musical figures which, in vocal contexts, are clearly symbolic. I haven't, though, seen any conclusive indication that any particular keyboard piece has a definite symbolic meaning which can be put into words. Tomita's theory on the B major prelude of Book 2 (which he promotes very modestly) is very entertaining.

< They still work for me, today. They go into "Google Print" searches for the book. Or one can go there separately, on the author's name....
<<
http://tinyurl.com/8c2c7 (pp138-40) and
http://tinyurl.com/8b598 (pp339-40). >>
I should have been more explicit. Yes, they go to the book's webpage, but then what? When I press the button to search on 'cabala' I get an error page. (I do have a google account...)

Oh well, I'm not much pained by not being able to read Eidam's pilloryings.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 15, 2005):
<< They still work for me, today. They go into "Google Print" searches for the book. Or one can go there separately, on the author's name....
http://tinyurl.com/8c2c7 (pp138-40) and
http://tinyurl.com/8b598 (pp339-40). >>
< I should have been more explicit. Yes, they go to the book's webpage, but then what? >
The forward and backward arrows above the top corner, to scroll through and read those pages.

John Pike wrote (November 16, 2005):
[To Bradley Lehman] I have been trying these links as well for several days without success. It just tells me that it couldn't be found on the server. I don't seem to be able to access Google print at all for some reason. It worked fine earlier in the week for a different book. What is going on here?

Stephen Benson wrote (November 16, 2005):
[To John Pike]Never having used Google Print before, after reading your post, I went to Google Print, set up an account, and gained immediate access to the indicated links and pages.

Tom Dent wrote (November 15, 2005):
[To Stephen Benson] My experience is the same as John Pike's. I already have a Google account (use it for email) but 'Could not be found on the server' is all I get, after getting to the webpage of the book (but *not* to any particular page of it).

MY HYPOTHESIS: Eidam's copyright protection extends through Europe but not the U.S. : so I can't see it, but others can.

What is the webpage for setting up a Google Print account, though?

Stephen Benson wrote (November 17, 2005):
Tom Dent wrote:
< What is the webpage for setting up a Google Print account, though? >
It appears to be the following: https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount?

Good luck,

John Pike wrote (November 17, 2005):
[To Stephen Benson] This is very puzzling. I have a Google account and have succeeded in reading google print stuff before. Yesterday, I found a link to Google print on the google website. It didn't work and told me that the requested site was not found on the server. Today, even that link is completely missing. Have they been forced to pull it because of legal action or is it some problem with the UK?

Tom Dent wrote (November 17, 2005):
Eidam - Amazon to the rescue

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0465018610/102-7715443-8984144?v=search-inside&keywords=cabala

Eidam errs in 'discovering' B-A-C-H in the C# minor fugue subject. Transposed to Bb minor it would be B-A-Des-C. Transposed (two whole tones as Eidam says) to A minor it would be A-Gis-C-H. Now if we could find some composer called Badesc or Agisch...

The actual occurrences of B-A-C-H are much more subtle and easily missable, as they stretch over the end of one group of four 8th-notes and the beginning of another. Keller wasn't as unobservant as all that.

One point I haven't seen addressed is the highly systematic nature of Bach's practice in gathering pieces together into collections. Would it make any sense for *only a few* pieces in the collection to have discoverable theological connotations... with the rest being 'merely' superb clavier music?

Another nugget (source is E.L. Gerber):
http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0393319563/102-7715443-8984144?v=search-inside&keywords=staccato

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 18, 2005):
Tom Dent wrote:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0465018610/102-7715443-8984144?v=search-inside&keywords=cabala
< Eidam errs in 'discovering' B-A-C-H in the C# minor fugue subject. Transposed to Bb minor it would be B-A-Des-C. Transposed (two whole tones as Eidam says) to A minor it would be A-Gis-C-H. Now if we could find some composer called Badesc or Agisch... >
The putative B-A-C-H of that C# minor fugue (WTC book 1) is not in the subject (as Eidam asserts on p140); it's in bars 70-71.

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Last update: ýNovember 20, 2005 ý12:51:31