Review Of "Bach And The Meanings Of Counterpoint" By D. Yearsley

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This fascinating study explores the significance of Johann Sebastian Bach's learned counterpoint. Offering close readings of key examples from the Bach repertory, Yearsley includes chapters on the Lutheran "art of dying"; on alchemy, galant aesthetics, political power; and on the Bach image in the 19th and 20th centuries. Bach's counterpoint here appears not at all "abstract," if what is meant by this is "devoid of broader meaning." Yearsley's book nicely complements Laurence Dreyfus's important but needlessly difficult-to-read Bach and the Patterns of Invention (CH, Jun'97), and it arguably corrects certain interpretive leaps or lapses in the work of Christoph Wolff (e.g., Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician, CH, Sep'00). Yearsley's clear and unpretentious writing style and his command of a remarkably wide range of historical and cultural material make this study a great read not only for musicians but also for dedicated general audiences. A significant new voice in Bach studies. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; public collections.


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