The English Bach Awakening: Knowledge of J.S. Bach and his Music in England, 1750–1830, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The English Bach Awakening

Knowledge of J.S. Bach and his Music in England, 1750–1830, 1st Edition

Edited by Michael Kassler


504 pages

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The English Bach Awakening concerns the introduction into England of J.S. Bach's music and information about him. Hitherto this subject has been called 'the English Bach revival', but that is a misnomer. 'Revival' implies prior life, yet no reference to Bach or to his music is known to have been made in England during his lifetime (1685-1750). The book begins with a comprehensive chronology of the English Bach Awakening. Eight chapters follow, written by Dr Philip Olleson, Dr Yo Tomita and the editor, Michael Kassler, which treat particular parts of the Awakening and show how they developed. A focus of the book is the history of the manuscripts and the printed editions of Bach's '48' - The Well-tempered Clavier - in England at this time, and its culmination in the 'analysed' edition that Samuel Wesley and Charles Frederick Horn published in 1810-1813 and later revised. Wesley's multifaceted role in the Bach Awakening is detailed, as are the several efforts that were made to translate Forkel's biography of Bach into English. A chapter is devoted to A.F.C. Kollmann's endeavour to prove the regularity of Bach's Chromatic Fantasy, and the book concludes with a discussion of portraits of Bach in England before 1830.


'This is scholarship of the highest order. I was impressed throughout by the thoroughness of the research and the excellence of the writing and production. It is a fascinating subject and the 478 pages are well worth the financial outlay… I was very impressed indeed and recommend this book most warmly.' The Organ

'… there is a lot of thorough research that bears upon a variety of other topics and relates to Bach reception history as well as the musical life of early-19th-century England…' Early Music Review

'… thoroughly absorbing… a veritable mine of facts… The contents will inform and enlighten and be a valuable reference source for either the advanced student of player in particular… a very welcome addition to the Bach bookshelf…' Bach Notes

'… useful and richly detailed… packed with such information as to be indispensable for any future author writing a critical account.' The Musical Times

'… the quality of research, the volume of information brought together, and the dedication to accuracy are extraordinarily high. Building on the work of earlier scholars, the authors have vastly enlarged our knowledge of the details of the English Bach Awakening. For specialists in several areas of musicology this book will be a boon and a treasure… Kassler's work shows a Bach-like persistence and perfectionism in the gathering and evaluation of evidence which few of us can equal, and it has resulted in a notable achievement in Bach scholarship.' Music and Letters

'[this book] should soon establish itself as a standard work.' Die Musikforschung

'… admirably researched and ably edited…seminal collection…' Eighteenth-Century Studies

‘… a book long needed, full of information on the world of English Bach admirers and organists, and offering a picture very different from the usual studies of the early reception.’ The Organ Yearbook

‘It is not only the overbearing sense of ethical research that impresses… There is also critical appraisal, analysis and even conjecture, but never stretching the evidence beyond reason… Back researchers and scholars of musical culture in nineteenth-century Britain can thank the editor, Michael Kassler, and Yo Tomita for this mint scholarship.’ Musicology Australia

Table of Contents

Contents: Chronology of the English Bach Awakening; The dawn of the English Bach Awakening manifested in sources of the '48', Yo Tomita; The English translations of Forkel's Life of Bach, Michael Kassler; Kollmann's proof of the regularity of Bach's Chromatic Fantasy, Michael Kassler; Samuel Wesley and the English Bach Awakening, Philip Olleson; The Bachists of 1810: subscribers to the Wesley/Horn edition of the '48', Michael Kassler; Pursuit of perfection: stages of revision of the Wesley/Horn '48', Yo Tomita; Samuel Wesley as analyst of Bach's fugues, Yo Tomita; Portraits of Bach in England before 1830, Michael Kassler; Appendix; Indexes.

About the Series

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

So much of our ‘common’ knowledge of music in nineteenth-century Britain is bound up with received ideas. This series disputes their validity through research critically reassessing our perceptions of the period. Volumes in the series cover wide-ranging areas such as composers and composition; conductors, management and entrepreneurship; performers and performing; music criticism and the press; concert venues and promoters; church music and music theology; repertoire, genre, analysis and theory; instruments and technology; music education and pedagogy; publishing, printing and book selling; reception, historiography and biography; women and music; masculinity and music; gender and sexuality; domestic music-making; empire, orientalism and exoticism; and music in literature, poetry, theatre and dance.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General