Bach and the Meanings of Counterpoint
In Bach’s Germany musical counterpoint was an art involving much more than the sophisticated use of advanced compositional techniques. A range of theological, cultural, social and political meanings attached themselves to the use of complex procedures such as canon and double counterpoint. This book explores the significance of Bach’s counterpoint in a range of interrelated contexts: its use as a means of reflecting on death; its parallels to alchemy; its vexed status in the galant music culture of the first half of the eighteenth century; its value as a representation of political power; and its central importance in the creation of Bach’s image in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Touching on a wide array of contemporary literary, philosophical, critical, and musical texts, the book includes new readings of many of Bach’s late works in order to re-evaluate the status and meaning of counterpoint in Bach’s work and legacy.