The subject of the book is the religious considerations, both philosophical and didactic, and the artistry enabling them, in the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach. It is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2017.
It is written from the point of view of the congregant, who, though not musically literate, would have been intimately familiar with the religious context, and with how this context informed the daily life of the citizenry.
My approach is to understand, through reflection, the relevance to today, as if I were a contemporary congregant, who, although distant by three centuries from the religion of the past, is nonetheless a citizen of one of the modern societies, and is one who finds guidance and direction from the great artistry of mankind; and, within this artistry, one of the greatest is that of Bach.
It is this guidance and direction that I endeavour to present and suggest to the reader, in the intent of supporting the reflections of that reader, and whether that reader is a believer, or not.
To indicate the framework of the faith that Bach draws from I discuss the cantatas within their position in and contribution to the ecclesiastical year, which commences with the first Sunday after Trinity. I therefore include the pertinent text of the prescribed Biblical readings of the gospel and epistle for each Sunday and feast day.
The book is designed for the reader who is not necessarily a trained musician, in keeping with the composition of the audience that Bach spoke to through his music. I include commentary on the structure and nature of the music, especially the effect of each of the constituent sections of each cantata, but I exclude notated musical examples as these would not have been available to the congregation of Bach’s day.
The perspective offered to the reader is, of course, mine. It does not claim the often immense knowledge one finds in other works on Bach. But it is a result of over twenty years’ highly individuated study of the cantatas, and which has also influenced my literary writings, especially my poetic work, such as that in Caravaggio’s Dagger.