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J.S. Bach - Volume 1
ISBN13: 9781443723787
ISBN: 1443723789
List Price: $44.95
Publisher: Wren Press

J. S. BACH by ALBERT SCHWEITZER. TRANSLATORS FOREWORD: Within the last few years Bach research has made a notable advance. Among the books that have contributed to this progress, that of Dr, Albert Schweitzer takes a leading place. It is equally valuable on the xsthetic and the practical sides its convincing demonstration of the pictorial bent of Bachs mind must necessarily lead to a reconsideration not only of the older view of Bach as a mainly abstract musician, but of the aesthetics of music in general while the chapters on the right manner of per forming Bachs works throw many a new light on this obscure subject. Most of all are correct ideas on this latter point invaluable now, when Bach is beginning, as one hopes, to win his due popularity among not only musicians but music lovers as a whole, The present translation has been made from the German version of Dr, Schweitzers book 1908, which is itself a greatly expanded version of a French original published in 1905, The text, however, has been largely altered and added to at Dr. Schweitzers request. The English edition is thus fuller and more correct even than the German. Like most other translators I have found it convenient and indeed necessary to preserve the word clavier to cover all the seventeenth and eighteenth century instru ments the harpsichord, clavichord, clavicembalo, c of the type now represented by the pianoforte. For the benefit of the English reader I have given all the references to Spittas Life of Bach in the correspond ing pages of the English edition of that book, published by Messrs. Novello Co. The index to the German original of Dr. Schweitzers book being hardly adequate, I have prepared a fuller one of my own, which I hope will increase the usefulness of the volumes. ERNEST NEWMAN. PREFACE TO THE GERMAN EDITION: In the autumn of 1893 a young Alsatian presented himself to me and asked if he could play something on the organ to me, Play what I asked. Bach, of course, was his reply. In the following years he returned regularly for longer or shorter periods, in order to habilitate himself as they used to say in Bachs day in organ playing under my guidance, One day in 1899, when we were going through the chorale preludes, I confessed to him that a good deal in these compositions was enigmatic to me, Bachs musical logic in the preludes and fugues, I said, is quite simple and clear but it becomes cloudy as soon as he takes up a chorale melody. Why these sometimes almost excessively abrupt antitheses of feeling Why does he add contrapuntal motives to a chorale melody that have often no relation to the mood of the melody Why all these incomprehen sible things in the plan and the working out of these fan tasias The more I study them the less I understand them . Naturally, said my pupil, many things in the chorales must seem obscure to you, for the reason that they are only explicable by the texts pertaining to them. I showed him the movements that had ptmlecl me the most he translated the poems into French for me iroiu memory. The mysteries were all solved. During the next few afternoons we played through the whole of the chorale preludes. While Schweitzer for he was the pupil explained them to me one after the other, 1 made the acquaintance of a Bach of whose existence I had previously had only the dimmest suspicion, In a flash it became clear to me that the cantor, of St. Thomass was much more than an incomparable contrapuntist to whom I had formerly looked up as one gazes up at a colossal statue, and that his work exhibits an unparalleled desire, and capacity for expressing poetic ideas and for bringing word and tone into unity. Preface to the German Edition 1908...