The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents

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"Just reading these documents brings this great composer to life in a most exciting and vivid way. I love this book!" —Yo-Yo Ma Through hundreds of letters, family papers, anecdotes, and records, the Bach Reader established a new approach to biography by offering original documents in impeccable translations. In The New Bach Reader, Christoph Wolff has incorporated numerous facsimiles and added many newly discovered items, reflecting the current state of scholarship about the composer's life and music. The readings in this volume provide an accurate and vivid picture of Bach's world and of his far-reaching influence.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised & enlarged edition (October 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393319563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393319569
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

Customer Reviews

A Bach Must Have

One person found this helpful.
 on September 16, 2015
By TheProfessor
I am a bonified Bach scholar and this book is always at my side for quick reference. It is an excellent piece of scholarship by a leading expert; nicely bound, legible, printed on very good paper. It contains many short entries: translations of all period records and writings, newspaper reports and other documents pertaining to Bach’s biography. Excellent index.

Archival reference work, well organized.

One person found this helpful.
 on January 16, 2015
By Joanne E. Langston
Excellently organized through a conspectus that allowed me to scan down a list of all the documents and go then to the ones that were most interesting to me. The conspectus is in the same order as the book, and functions as an archival finding guide. A great reference work, very glad I have it.

A Perfect Resource for all who care about Bach

One person found this helpful.
 on June 9, 2015
By Mr. William Stubbs
A magnificent and comprehensive survey of the Bach documents.

Excellent resource

 on October 12, 2013
By Anny C Bigelow
This is one of the best resources for reading from primary source documents about Bach that there is. There is great detail about Bach here from his contemporaries and even his kids. For anyone who is a Bach junkie, this book is a must have. It is a great book.

Five Stars

One person found this helpful.
 on December 23, 2014
By J. Alexander Bodkin
A nice companion to his Learned Musician.

Excellent Read

One person found this helpful.
 on February 17, 2014
By Ken
This is a must read and an important baseline when beginning to read what others write about Bach and his life.


One person found this helpful.
 on June 30, 2013
By Ernst Ett
incredible wealth of information and details into j s bach’s life – well and clearly shown, a pleasure to read

The primary sources for Bach’s life and work.

 on August 1, 2017
By Alan U. Kennington
This book gives the most complete information available on JS Bach’s life and work. Sadly this is all the primary documentation that remains of his life. He wrote no autobiography. He was too humble. He wrote no composition theory book. All we have is his music and these somewhat peripheral documents regarding his life and thought. On the other hand, it is extremely fortunate that such a large proportion of his profound musical output was rescued from oblivion.

A must have and must read – contemporary documents and the view of Bach through the centuries

31 people found this helpful.
 on January 25, 2006
By Craig Matteson
This book is essential for anyone wanting to understand the life and work of J. S. Bach. It provides wonderful insights about the man through his own documents and writings by those who knew and worked with him. He comes across as an amazingly hard working genius with a quick temper and absolute focus.

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