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Notes on Bach

Monthly conversations with scholars about the life, times, legacy, and music of J.S. Bach. Sponsored by Bach Society Houston.
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Now displaying: 2020
Nov 30, 2020

Earlier in November, Bach Society Houston performed works from the two Anna Magdalena Bach Notebooks; you can watch the concert here. These notebooks, which originated in 1722 and 1725, respectively, were owned by Anna Magdalena Bach, J.S. Bach’s second wife. These two manuscript collections contain keyboard and vocal works of varying levels of complexity, composed by multiple people and entered into the notebooks by different scribes, including Anna Magdalena herself. In our own time, some of the more elementary pieces in the books are still well-known as teaching pieces for piano students. The notebooks are one of the few surviving sources related to Anna Magdalena Bach, who has been the subject of research, conjecture, devotion and fiction across centuries and continents. With us to talk about Anna Magdalena's musical and domestic life, her Notebooks and other sources related to her, and how we know what we think we know about her is Dr. Andrew Talle. Dr. Talle is Associate Professor of Musicology at Northwestern University and a scholar of music and society in eighteenth-century Germany. He is author of the book Beyond Bach: Music and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century. Stay tuned at the end of the interview to hear more about his new research into popular music in the Leipzig of Bach's time.

Apr 30, 2020

To finish Season 4, we hear from Dr. Erin Lambert, Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia. She joins us to talk about her book, Singing the Resurrection: Body, Community, and Belief in Reformation Europe, published by Oxford University Press. Our conversation covers how the Reformation fragmented late medieval belief about the body, resurrection, and community into a kaleidoscope of differing confessional notions which then found expression in song. We also talk about Erin’s research process and where her book fits with, and how it interrogates, existing Reformation historiography.

Singing the Resurrection Book

Mar 14, 2020

This month, we're diving into the world of Jewish salon culture in late-18th- and early-19th-century Berlin, a setting where women such as Sara Levy shaped the transmission and reception of Bach family music. Our guest on this episode is early music scholar and performer Dr. Rebecca Cypess, who joins us to discuss new research about Sara Levy in the book Sara Levy's World along with two related recordings by the Raritan Players: In Sara Levy's Salon and Sisters, Face to Face: The Bach Legacy in Women's Hands. Together, these projects provide new perspectives on the complicated musical and cultural agency of a notable upper-class Jewish woman in Enlightenment Germany.

Jan 17, 2020

If you can identify the sound of the harpsichord but know very little about its history and performance practice, this is the episode for you. Join us as Mark Kroll, internationally-known harpsichordist, noted scholar, and Emeritus Professor of Music at Boston University, tells us about a comprehensive new book on the harpsichord, the Cambridge Companion to the Harpsichord. Kroll edited the collection, which includes essays covering various national/geographical harpsichord traditions, key composers for the instrument, and 20th-century harpsichord music. Houston listeners who plan on attending Bach Society Houston's upcoming concert of Bach's Concertos, which includes the harpsichord showpiece Brandenburg No. 5, will be especially interested in this episode. 

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