SEBASTIAN BACH
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No one will expect a life of Bach to be amusing, but it will be my own fault if the present Essay does not offer an interest of a high and varied character. If it labours under a disadvantage, as the first biography of the master written in this country, on the other hand it is only now that, thanks to the devotion of Professor Spitta, we can congratulate ourselves on the possession of absolutely all the attainable facts. Hitherto, three translations or abridgements of German works have appeared in England; and the first is one of those books which, however incomplete, can never really be superseded. It is a translation of the “Life” of J. N. Forkel, published at Leipzig in 1802, and in London in 1820. Forkel was not only pre-eminent among the learned musicians of the end of the last century, but also the friend and scholar of Bach’s sons Friedemann and Emanuel. He presents us, therefore, with more than a masterly criticism of Bach’s science, knowing, it should seem, little beyond the organ and clavichord works: he is full of anecdotes and reminiscences of the master, all the more valuable, because told with a naïveté and freshness that stamp them at once as genuine and uncoloured.

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