Other available formats:
Looking for an examination copy?
If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact firstname.lastname@example.org providing details of the course you are teaching.
In 1947 the theologian and musicologist Friedrich Smend published a study which claimed that J. S. Bach regularly employed the natural-order number alphabet (A=1 to Z=24) in his works. Smend provided historical evidence and music examples to support his theory which demonstrated that by this means Bach incorporated significant words into his music, and provided himself with a symbolic compositional scheme. Since then many people have taken up Smend's theory, interpreting numbers of bars and notes in Bach scores according to the natural-order alphabet. By presenting a thorough survey of different number alphabets and their uses in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Germany, Dr Tatlow investigates the plausibility of Smend's claims. Her new evidence fundamentally challenges Smend's conclusions and the book sounds a note of caution to all who continue to use his number-alphabet theory. Dr Tatlow's painstaking research will fascinate all those with an interest in the music of J. S. Bach and German Baroque culture, and will be of particular importance for music historians and analysts.
Reviews & endorsements
"A miracle has come to pass: a book concerning Bach and number symbolism which is sensible, perceptive and scholarly."
John Butt, Music and LettersSee more reviews
"Ruth Tatlow's book is not only one of the very few scientifically serious investigations into this overexploited subject area, but also the first ever critical analysis of Smend's number symbolical works and their premises."
Christoph Wolff, Bach-Jahrbuch
"Tatlow shows with devastating clarity that from Luther's time to Bach's, the use of such numerical interpretation for Christian theological purposes was considered misguided at best, and heretical at worst."
Daniel Melamed, Journal of the American Musicological Society
"… it is refreshing to see a scholar who is ready to remove Bach from the vacuum in which he is too often studied."
Jeanne Swack, Notes
"Thanks to Dr Tatlow's researches, we now have a solid basis of fact for speculations as to the role of numerology, and in particular the number alphabet, in the music of Bach and his contemporaries."
Malcolm Boyd, The Times Literary Supplement
Not yet reviewed
Be the first to review
Review was not posted due to profanity×
- Date Published: April 2006
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521028011
- length: 204 pages
- dimensions: 234 x 154 x 11 mm
- weight: 0.291kg
- contains: 11 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
1. Friedrich Smend
2. Number alphabets
3. The poetical paragram
4. A musical paragram?
5. Links to Bach
Sorry, this resource is locked
Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email email@example.comRegister Sign in
You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner www.ebooks.com. Please see the permission section of the www.ebooks.com catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.Continue ×