book report: Johann Sebastian Bach by Rick Marschall (2011)

Finishing this book was like eating a supreme pizza but in the personal size, oh so good, but not enough. At almost 200 pages, Rick Marschall, has introduced me to a world I'm woefully clueless about and put an intense desire in me to indulge in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach until my ears bleed. My musical upbringing consisted of pop music then heavy metal then grunge then alternative pop music and now my teenagers listen to hip hop. I find myself as the parent who seeks out the classical station on the car radio and at work as well. I have no clue what I'm listening to, or by whom, but now I know what I want to listen to and it seems that if I really wanted, I could listen to Bach for a long time before anything repeated itself. Marschall brings to the forefront an essential dimension of Bach's music, his Lutheran faith. I love this quote of Bach's, "The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God and refreshing the soul. Where this is not observed there will be no music, but only a devilish hubbub."

Marschall wants us readers to appreciate Bach's faith. He refers to Bach's Bible and the Lutheran commentary he used and made notes in. He also points to his employment in several churches including his last post for the last 27 years of his life at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. His musical output was beyond any other human's. "Whereas he once composed a cantata a month to the astonishment of fellow musicians, at Leipzig he composed one a week over several periods. The mighty Passions, of which the St. Matthew and St. John survive today, were written for the St. Thomas Church. The majestic B minor Mass was written during Bach’s Leipzig period." Marschall spends a chapter on Bach's dedication to church music to support the assertion that Bach is the fifth evangelist. He did not mention any of the anecdotes of those who converted to Christianity because of the works of Bach, from Mendelssohn to communists in countries without freedom of religion but with appreciation for great music.

I am very thankful for Marschall's appendix explaining different musical terms. I needed a clue, not just on musical terms, but on the genius, gifted by God to create worship music that has endured the centuries.

I received this book for free that I might review it from Booksneeze.


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