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Bach's Feet
The Organ Pedals in European Culture

$26.00 USD

Part of Musical Performance and Reception

  • Date Published: February 2012
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781139210522

$ 26.00 USD
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About the Authors
  • The organist seated at the king of instruments with thousands of pipes rising all around him, his hands busy at the manuals and his feet patrolling the pedalboard, is a symbol of musical self-sufficiency yielding musical possibilities beyond that of any other mode of solo performance. In this book, David Yearsley presents an interpretation of the significance of the oldest and richest of European instruments, by investigating the German origins of the uniquely independent use of the feet in organ playing. Delving into a range of musical, literary and visual sources, Bach's Feet demonstrates the cultural importance of this physically demanding mode of music-making, from the blind German organists of the fifteenth century, through the central contribution of Bach's music and legacy, to the newly-pedaling organists of the British Empire and the sinister visions of Nazi propagandists.

    • Investigates the symbolic power of the organ and organ performance in creating a sense of German national identity, presenting new readings of organ works by Bach and others
    • Provides a fresh perspective on the importance of the organ for J. S. Bach's legacy, re-imagining Bach as a performing musician making music at the organ
    • Places the organ - the oldest and richest of European instruments - back at the centre of musical discourse, giving a clear sense of the complexity, excitements, difficulty and majesty of organ performance
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'There is much to enjoy in this compelling study.' Early Music

    'Part of [Yearsley's] intent in writing Bach's Feet, which is clearly a labor of love, is to reintroduce the organ into general musicological discourse, and perhaps even attract some lay readers. His book certainly deserves to succeed in its mission, and the organ, as he says, is 'ready for a comeback'.' Notes

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2012
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139210522
    • contains: 44 b/w illus. 88 music examples
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Inventing the organist's feet
    2. Harmonies of the feet, visions of the body
    3. Walking towards perfection: pedal solos and cycles
    4. The pedal in the cosmopolitan age of travel
    5. Treading the globe: the world-wide expansion of the German pedal ideal
    6. Bach's feet.

  • Author

    David Yearsley, Cornell University, New York
    David Yearsley is the author of Bach and the Meanings of Counterpoint (Cambridge, 2002) as well as numerous essays on European musical culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; his scholarly work has appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Music and Letters, Early Music and Eighteenth-Century Music. Active as a performer on organ and other keyboard instruments, his recordings are available on the Loft and Musica Omnia labels. Yearsley has been an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and a Wenner–Gren Foundation Fellow at Göteborgs Universitet, Sweden. A long-time member of the pioneering synthesizer trio Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Company, he is Professor of Music at Cornell University, New York.

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