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BK

Marissen, Michael

Bach & God

This book explores the religious character of the vocal and instrumental music of Johann Sebastian Bach, offering many and various interpretive insights that were gained from careful scrutiny of his librettos in light of the Luther Bible and other writings of Martin Luther. Yet the book also shows how Bach’s music can make contributions to a work’s plausible meanings that go beyond setting texts in an aesthetically satisfying manner. In some of Bach’s vocal repertory, the music puts a “spin” on the words in a way that turns out to be explainable as related to specific tenets of orthodox Lutheranism. In a few of Bach’s vocal works, his otherwise puzzlingly fierce musical settings serve to underscore now unrecognized or unacknowledged anti-Judaism or anti-Semitism in their texts. Even Bach’s secular instrumental music, particularly the collections of purportedly “abstract” counterpoint, can be seen to powerfully project certain elements of traditional Lutheran theology.

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