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In Bach in America, volume 5 of Bach Perspectives, nine scholars track Johann Sebastian Bach’s reputation in America from an artist of relative obscurity to a cultural mainstay whose music has spread to all parts of the population, inspired a wealth of scholarship, captivated listeners, and inspired musicians.
More than a hundred years passed after Bach’s death in 1750 before his music began to be known and appreciated in the United States. Barbara Owen surveys Bach’s early reception in America and Matthew Dirst focuses on John Sullivan Dwight’s role in advocating Bach’s work. Michael Broyles considers the ways Bach’s music came to be known in Boston and Mary J. Greer offers a counterpoint in her study of Bach’s reception in New York.
The volume continues with Hans-Joachim Schulze’s essay linking the American descendants of August Reinhold Bach to J. S. Bach through a common sixteenth-century ancestor. Christoph Wolff focuses on Bach’s descendants in America, particularly Friederica Sophia Bach, the daughter of Bach’s eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. Peter Wollny evaluates several manuscripts not included in Gerhard Herz’s study of Bach Sources in America.
Bach in America concludes with examinations of Bach’s considerable influence on American composers. Carol K. Baron compares the music of Bach and Charles Ives and Stephen A. Crist measures Bach’s influence on the jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck.