Books & Music

Our Bach Bookshelf  updated 1 April 2016


During his lifetime Bach assembled a large library of books. Writings on Lutheran theology and the literary work of the day provided a rich source of reference material and thought for the composer. Some volumes in his Library are well annotated by him and, in the absence of a substantial number of personal letters and papers having survived, they provide us with some precious insight into the composer’s character.

Our own Bach bookshelf primarily reflects the work of contemporary scholars. The differing approaches provide  fascinating reading material, carefully researched and written by leading modern Bach scholars and authors.  Our selection also includes volumes that will enlighten the reader about the composer’s life, the fashion and taste of the age too, with one that is an absorbing series of chapters on the dissemination of Bach’s music in 19th century England, complete with detailed footnotes and references.


**Bach & God  by Michael Marissen, published by Oxford University Press New York, (2016) Hardback, 257 pages $35 (£24.50 at current rates/check). ISBN-13: 978-0190606954       Click on the link to read a description of the book.


Bach’s Numbers: Compositional Proportion and Significance by Ruth Tatlow  published by Cambridge University Press, (2015).   ISBN 978-1-107-08860-3 (Hardback)  Price: £84.99 Paperback edition will follow.

This long awaited book by Bach Scholar Ruth Tatlow will appeal to performing musicians as much as academics and composers, theologians and any amateur interested in Bach, theology and numbers.


Leipzig City of Music in pictures by Michael Maul,   Volume 1: From the Beginning to the 18th century   published by Lehmstadt Verlag (2014)   224 pages with about 222 color illustrations  24 x 27 cm, hardcover, dust jacket, sewn (German only)  ISBN 978-3-942473-88-0

Price: 24,90 € (D) 25,90 € (A) 34.90 SFr

"It will be the standard work on the City of Music - for years to come."  Ralf Julke, Leipziger Internet Zeitung, November 21, 2014 )

The Aesthetic of Johann Sebastian Bach by André Pirro, translated by Joe Armstrong publisheed by Rowman & Littlefield (June 2014) ISBN:- 9781442232907, £51.95, hardback

The Aesthetic of Johann Sebastian Bach (L’Esthéthique de Jean-Sébastien Bach), by the celebrated French musicologist André Pirro (1869‒1943), was originally published in 1907 and reissued in 1973. It is offered here for the first time in English, as translated by Joe Armstrong. Pirro’s work is based primarily on an examination of the close relationships between language and music in Bach’s vocal works and provides us with an extensive and well-researched lexicon of the expressive resources of Bach and his contemporaries. As a consequence, Pirro’s study also serves as a sound basis for understanding and interpreting Bach’s instrumental works.

Editor: This volume will be of particular interest to collectors of Bach books written in times past.

The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach Vol II: 1717-1750 Richard D P Jones published by Oxford University Press (2013) 

" From that city of dreaming spires comes, long awaited, the second volume in the most comprehensive study of Bach’s musical development now in print.  .... This book qualifies immediately as a towering work of outstanding musical analysis."   Peter Smaill writing in London Bach Society's Journal "Bach Notes" March 2014

J S Bach at His Royal Instrument: Essays on his Organ Works by Russell Stinson published by Oxford University Press (2013) ISBN 978-0-19-991723-5 Price £32.50 Hardback

Bach edited by Yo Tomita, Queen's University Belfast,  published by Ashgate Publishing (2011) ISBN 978-0-7546-2891-0 Hardback Price £140 (Website Price £126)

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician by Christoph Wolff
published by Oxford University Press (2002)   ISBN  0199248842

The New Bach Reader Ed. H.T.David & A. Mendel, rev. Christoph Wolff,  published by W.W. Norton (New York, 1998)  ISBN 0393319563

J S Bach: A Life in Music Peter Williams published by Cambridge University Press (2007) ISBN 13: 9780521870740

The English Bach Awakening Ed. Michael Kassler published by Ashgate (2004) ISBN 1840146664

The Cantatas of J.S. Bach Ed. Alfred Dürr, Trans. Richard Jones
published by Oxford University Press (2006) ISBN  0198167075

Bach's Oratorios by Michael Marissen, published by Oxford University Press (2008) ISBN 978-0-19-536717-1  The Parallel German-English Texts with annotations.

Bach's Dialogue with Modernity Perspectives on the Passions by John Butt, published by Cambridge University Press (2010)  Hardback ISBN:9780521883566  Price £68

The Faber Pocket Guide to Bach by Nicholas Kenyon, published by Faber (2011) ISBN 978-0-571-23327-4 rrp £8.99. Reviewed in Bach Notes, Spring 2011 edition


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