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Showing 1-10 of 26 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 36 reviews
on May 27, 2017
What an outstanding book for musicians and all those who find Bach fascinating. I learned so much that I didn't know and came away with a much deeper appreciation for Bach's genius. The author is a bit of a genius himself in writing about a subject that could be dry and boring but has turned it into a wonderfully researched and imagined book.
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on December 6, 2014
This is the best, most engaging Bach biography I have read yet. The style weaves his story through the stories of some of the most well known Bach performers of the past century (or two). The back and forth nature of the book flows well and I did not find it distracting. It was like several biographies in one. The only gripe--if you can call it that--is that the author seemed to spend quite a bit of time on Casals; however, it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book. Elie does not get bogged down with overly technical jargon like other biographers but he includes plenty of detail so the reader is not left wanting. I'd say that even if you are not a Bach addict, this biography is thoroughly enjoyable simply for the information and how interestingly it is presented.
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on February 2, 2013
Anything but dry, this is the story of recorded music and how it has changed the way music is perceived as well as an entertaining bio of Bach. Warning, it can be an expensive read. I found myself adding many CDs to my collection.

I was delighted when Elise mentioned Pink Floyd early on. This is not a book locked into the past. He gives us an idea of the environment when a Bach piece was created, and contrasts that with the recorded history of the work.
Chapters about Bach are interspersed with portraits of Albert Schweitzer, Pablo Casals, Glen Gould and other influential Bach interpreters; their lives, their approach to Bach, and how their recordings influence our relationship to Bach.

Elise does tend to make the same point over and over. Recordings make an ephemeral performance permanent. That has changed the way we hear a composition. Some strict editing would make the book tighter but I forgave the repetition for his infectious enthusiasm. I had many little epiphanies as I read, for example, Daniel Barenboim's conception of music as the shaped air of a certain room on a certain night. I found myself repeatedly reconsidering my relationship to music as I read Reinventing Bach.
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on May 7, 2014
First, I like Johann Sebastian. When I proceed to my next existence I hope to handle the bellows of the organ when Bach plays. Yes, this is a good bok. As the name states, it is not so much about Bach as about how the author, several musicians, and others have looked upon and valued him. It gives many different points of view and it opens up new perspectives on Bach. When read, certain parts seemes out of context but then suddenly the view cleared. I liked this book very much and it has deepened my understanding of Bach, his time, and of his music.
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on October 8, 2014
This book offered so much more than the title suggested. There was exhaustive review of the career and the writing and the personal life of Bach but, in addition, there was extensive treatment of the prodigious work by Schweitzer, Gould and Pabo Casals in performing and promoting the work of Bach as well as an intriguing and revealing account of the development of recorded music and its influence on those without access to live performance.
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on November 30, 2012
This book is taking me much longer to read than I expected becuase I find myself continually visiting my CD collection, or Naxos Music Library or, if all else fails, You Tube to listen to the music Elie is discussing.
Then, of course, there are the pauses for sharing fascinating nuggets of information with whoever happens to be around.
I first saw the book when we were on holiday in the US. Too heavy said husband. No problem. Thank goodness for kindle. The only quibble I would have is that I would like an index.
One of the best books on music I have ever read.
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on December 8, 2012
As others have pointed out, there are some mistakes in a few details, but I was not reading this book for technical details. The further I got into it, the more I realized that Elie was not teaching me, except to teach me one writer's joyous response to perhaps the greatest music ever.
Reinventing Bach could just as well be called Celebrating Bach, in different countries, different times, different media. The music of Bach runs through the book (not really; I spent a lot of time on Youtube chasing down performances), holding together a history of the twentieth century.
Just about every day that I read this book, I posted a sentence or two on Facebook, hoping to get someone else to join the party.
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on October 1, 2013
I found this book to be utterly fascinating as Elie takes us through newer and newer technologies and shows the effect on how performers adjusted their way of performing. As a professional organist, this is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time.
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on March 2, 2014
This is a really broad study of Bach, his music, times, etc., and would be of help to performers and composers of all music in increasing musical depth of perception.
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on January 26, 2013
A different approach to writing about Bach. Elie is not a musicologist but a serious listener - a viewpoint I strongly sympathise with. He examines Bach's music through recordings: Casals, Gould and such.
I finished the book with a deeper understanding of the music and a greater appreciation for the abilities of the performers.
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