Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Review: Johann Sebastian Bach

"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." -J.S. Bach

Rick Marschall's short biography of the great composer, J.S. Bach, gives a broad--albeit sometimes dry--overview of his life and musical career.  I was less interested in the former as I was the latter, though I do appreciate the importance of a thorough understanding.

Bach possessed an unmatched gift for composition:  able to compose entire arrangements without hearing one note.  During his lifetime, Bach composed somewhere in the ballpark of 2,000 different pieces of music. Around 1,200 are in existence today.  

As a Christian, however, I most enjoyed Marschall's explanation of Bach's Christian worldview and his singular driving passion:  the glory of God.  Bach recognized God's rightful central place in his life and in the church, and he endeavored to write, perform, and live everything for His glory.  Bach ended every composition with the letters SDG, which stand for Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory). 

Much of the musical information is heavy, though Marschall wisely includes an appendix of musical terms in the back of the book.  I believe that even those with little or no musical knowledge would come away with a profound appreciation for Bach's gift, and especially his dedication to use that gift for God's glory alone.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."