After quite a few weeks without any book reviews, I’m finally back! Ah, summer…This week it’s going to be Book Review Thursday instead of Tuesday, but next week should be back to normal. This week’s review is a biography simply entitled Johann Sebastian Bach by Rick Marschall.
Author Rick Marschall immediately stood out to me as a music lover with an especially strong passion for music that glorifies God. As such, it is no surprise that he would be drawn to write a biography of a man such as Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach’s entire life and career were devoted to bringing God glory through not only his music but through every other action and interaction as well.
In the opening chapters, Johann Sebastian Bach quickly marked itself as what could potentially be my favorite of the Christian Encounters biographies thus far. Marschall’s writing style is passionate, showing his own love for the subject matter at hand. While at times this makes his writing seem slightly unpolished, it also makes it comfortable and accessible. It felt as though I was sitting in a room with Marschall, discussing a favorite subject with him.
The cultural background Marschall laid for Bach’s life also drew me in. I am a history lover, and I know all too well how greatly we can misunderstand historical figures because we do not understand the culture in which they lived. The author’s detailed description of culture and religion in Bach’s time greatly enhanced the discussion of Bach’s life itself.
I confess, however, that my delight with the book did wane as I continued through it. Marschall’s writing style was topical rather than chronological. This led to a great deal of repetition as the topics inevitably overlapped. Also, it reduced the personal exploration of Bach’s life. While I know that Bach wrote little in the way of personal diaries and letters, I can’t help but think that there must be a little more personal information on him than what is included in this book.
One thing that is helpful with this biography is Marschall’s description of the music behind the man. The author explains Bach’s musical preferences, descriptions of his various works, and the reason why his skill on the organ was so phenomenal.
All in all, as a biography Johann Sebastian Bach had a great start, a rather repetitive middle and ending, and a lot of solid resource material. It is one I will definitely refer to as a resource tool while teaching my children music in general and about Bach specifically. But, I’m not sure it’s one that I would highly recommend as a biography lover’s first choice for reading about Bach.
This book was sent to me by Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review.