UW–Madison Libraries Services during COVID–19

COVID–19 Library Dashboard
Library by Appointment: Access to Memorial Library now available

What do we make of Bach? : portraits, essays, notes

Harbison, John author

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Creator John Harbison ; edited by Sarah Schaffer
  • Format Books
  • Contributors
  • Publication Middleton, Wisconsin : ARS Nova, LLC, 2018. ©2018
  • Physical Details
    • 113 pages : illustrations, facsimiles, music, portraits ; 21 cm
  • ISBNs 9781732509702, 1732509700
  • OCLC on1057474670


  • "Internationally-acclaimed composer John Harbison's lifelong absorption in the music of J.S. Bach has been a touchstone in all of his work: as conductor, performer, composer, teacher, and scholar. What Do We Make of Bach? collects for the first time many of Harbison's writings on Bach, and is intended as a stand-alone companion to his simultaneously-composed organ symphony of the same title (2018), which together summarize a lifetime preoccupation. In many ways the book is an extended comment on the musical work, sharing with it a relationship to Bach's music that is both obvious and oblique. The volume consists of portraits (encounters with individuals revolving around Bach's work), essays (experiences with institutions in which Bach was at the core, together with some thoughts about where Bach's music could take us, now), and program notes (from many written over the last sixty years, a few chosen to light upon the aesthetic and social issues the author finds most essential today). Through the lens of Bach, this fascinating collection gives us a memoir of Harbison's evolution as composer and performer, and offers a deeply personal history. The depth of Harbison's knowledge pervades the book, and offers a way to begin to absorb Bach's work as a living, breathing model for our musical and artistic selves, both privately and in community. Written in the light of half a century of studying and performing Bach, Harbison's book--part memoir, part composerly meditation--offers valuable, eloquent insights into the journey of an essential American composer"--Amazon.com.


  • Forms part of: Wisconsin Music Archives.
  • Includes bibliographical references.


  • Introduction -- Portraits. E.H. Harbison ; Helen Abrahamian ; Tom Artin ; Hannis-Martin Schneidt ; Sylvia Kind ; Frau Baum ; Arthur Mendel ; William H. Scheide ; Rose Mary Pedersen ; Robert D. Levin ; Craig Smith ; Fred Goldstein ; David Satz ; Lorraine Hunt Lieberson -- Essays. Bach or Jesus? ; Bach in Mississippi ; The Bach literature ; What do we make of Bach? Part I. Taking Bach's measure -- Part II. The Deceptive cadence ; Bach and the modern composer -- Cantata notes. Cantata BWV 9 : Es ist das Heil uns kommen her ; Cantata BWV 125 : Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin ; Cantata BWV 163 : Nur jedem das Seine! ; Cantata BWV 93 : Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten
Checking the Web...