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The ironies of artistic genius and public taste are subtly explored in this winding, entertaining tale of a musical masterpiece. Music critic Siblin parallels short, fluent biographies of composer Johann Sebastian Bach, whose six suites for solo cello were long disparaged as minor student exercises, and cello virtuoso Pablo Casals, whose landmark recording of the pieces catapulted them into the classical canon. Their lives are a study in contrasts: Bach is an obscure workaday musician who feels wasted being merely the cantor of a Lutheran boarding school; Casals, a musical superstar and anti-Fascist exile, is a romantic hero. Siblin intertwines his own story of trying to engage with the suites. He takes cello lessons, savors a rich variety of performances, including one on the marimbas, and embarks on a search for Bach's long-lost manuscript to discover clues to the enigmatic score. (Scholars aren't even certain the suites were written for cello.) Siblin is an insightful writer with an ability to convey the sound and emotional impact of music in words. (Jan.)
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*Starred Review* A former pop-music critic, Siblin was transported to the eighteenth century when his imagination was captured by a performance of Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello. He embarked on a journey—part historical, part personal—to discover for himself the music that has remained a pillar of the cello repertoire since Pablo Casals recorded the suites in 1936. Siblin traveled to Leipzig looking for traces of the German composer, and to the Catalonian coast of Spain to trace the steps of the suites’ first modern master. Included in his thorough research are interviews with cellists such as Mischa Maisky and Anner Bylsma, who describe the complexities of the music and the challenges it presents to the soloist. In Siblin’s history of the composer, Bach is far from the stuffy image often applied to classical music; he appears restless, brash, and proud, occasionally landing in jail for upsetting a patron. Siblin’s writing is most inspired when describing the life of Casals, showing a genuine affection for the cellist, who, caught in the throes of the Spanish civil war and World War II, used his instrument and the suites as weapons of protest and pleas for peace. --Elliot Mandel --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Interesting bio of Bach but too much about the author and description of music not for the nonprofessionalPublished 2 months ago by Miriam Goodman
I enjoyed this book as it showed me the depth of the Cello Suites, but most of all, because of the moving picture of an extraordinary musician, a man with a clear political... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Carlos Salas Paez
great book...I have been working on NO 5...the book has pushed me to go on with new eyes......Published 6 months ago by Bernard Henderson
i came across this book when i decided to learn cello and designed my own immersion studies , reading everything i could and this book made me understand so much about the bach... Read morePublished 7 months ago by cecile
This is a nice book. It's well written and engaging. The author is a newcomer to classical music, biography, and historical research. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Allen Walzem
I mislaid my previous copy, so replaced it -- that's how good this book is!Published 7 months ago by Robert C. Price
I discovered the story of Bach, Casals, and the cello suite manuscript to be entertaining and informative. I recommend reading this book.Published 8 months ago by pbirch999
Captivating book! Not musicology, not academic history, but rather great reading with a thorough research of the facts.Thanks, Mr. Siblin!Published 8 months ago by n3ptune