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Ebook Information

Beyond Bach

Music and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century

When Bach was just another hard-working composer

Reverence for J. S. Bach's music and its towering presence in our cultural memory have long affected how people hear his works. In his own time, however, Bach stood as just another figure among a number of composers, many of them more popular with the music-loving public.

Eschewing the great composer style of music history, Andrew Talle takes us on a journey that looks at how ordinary people made music in Bach's Germany. Talle focuses in particular on the culture of keyboard playing as lived in public and private. As he ranges through a wealth of documents, instruments, diaries, account ledgers, and works of art, Talle brings a fascinating cast of characters to life. These individuals--amateur and professional performers, patrons, instrument builders, and listeners--inhabited a lost world, and Talle's deft expertise teases out the diverse roles music played in their lives and in their relationships with one another. At the same time, his nuanced re-creation of keyboard playing's social milieu illuminates the era's reception of Bach's immortal works.


"For all its scrupulous erudition and factual density, Talle's writing is eminently readable: unpretentious, lively, and frequently humorous, as he reconstructs the routines and conventions his subjects observed in their musical pursuits. These included the role music played in their social, commercial, and even erotic lives. At times the text reads like a soap opera; at times it is almost a ribald, lascivious page-turner."--Robert L. Marshall, Early Music America

"Beyond Bach is a treasure trove of information about the place of music making in the daily lives of ordinary people in J.S. Bach's Germany. Andrew Talle's careful selection of citations from his fascinating source materials is woven together by easy-to-read prose, resulting in an entertaining and enjoyable read. . . . [Beyond Bach] deserves a place among the classics."--Swedish Journal of Music Research

"Excellently researched and well-presented and engaging. Little has been done in approaching musicians of J. S. Bach's time in Germany through the lens of social history. As one of the first books to do this and to do it very well, Talle's volume marks a major contribution to the field."--Mark Peters, author of A Woman's Voice in Baroque Music: Mariane von Ziegler and J. S. Bach

"Talle's study is meticulously researched and documented, making excellent use of an impressively large number of primary and secondary sources. There is currently nothing like it in any language, and its significance goes well beyond Bach studies."--Steven Zohn, author of Music for a Mixed Taste: Style, Genre, and Meaning in Telemann's Instrumental Works

Publication is supported by a grant from the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Andrew Talle is Associate Professor of Music Studies at the Bienen School of Music of Northwestern University. He is the editor of Bach Perspectives, Volume Nine: Bach and His German Contemporaries.

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