Double Bach here!

These two books were where I started my Bach’s Quest: Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician by Christoph Wolff, and Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner.

I was particularly interested in Bach’s early years, the kind of atmosphere he grew up in, and, of course, whether the route he took to Lüneburg was described in any detail.

Christoph Wolff’s book is really great for detail. He lists which Bachs were related to which other Bachs, what their musical duties would have been, and where they lived and worked. Thuringia was, when JS was born, full of Bachs, indeed, their name was considered synonymous with “musician”, and they held most of the important musical jobs in that part of Germany.

John Eliot Gardiner’s book paints a fabulous and vibrant picture of life in Thuringia when Bach was growing up, from the theological and philosophical background to the schooling he might have received to the turbulent bullying in school that may have been the reason why JS missed so much school during his time in Eisenach.

Neither book has much information about the actual route JS might have taken from Ohrdruf to Lüneburg, but both books certainly fire up the reader’s imagination, inspiring them to fill in the gaps in Bach’s biography themselves.