Cover: The Interpretation of Bach’s Keyboard Works, from Harvard University PressCover: The Interpretation of Bach’s Keyboard Works in E-DITION

The Interpretation of Bach’s Keyboard Works

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674733237

Publication Date: 01/01/1960

421 pages



Available from De Gruyter »

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

With intense and sympathetic scholarship and the sure musical intuition of practiced performance, Erwin Bodky achieves an internal reading of Bach’s keyboard works such as has never before been attempted. In the absence of interpretive directions, Bodky seeks for clues to performance in the texture of the music itself, and his readings supply striking evidence that Bach was an accomplished law-breaker whenever tradition threatened to hamper his artistic insights. The eighty years from Bach’s death to the year of Mendelssohn’s revival of the St. Matthew Passion erased the first-hand knowledge of baroque music. Bach wrote for harpsichord and clavichord, and the interpretive potential of the piano has only obscured the salient characteristics of his work. The bold and convincing Interpretation of Bach’s Keyboard Works is a welcome revelation of what devotion and skill can recover from the muddle of Academics and Romantics.

Not afraid to assert his personal convictions, Bodky points out that “although the problems of dynamics disappear with the solution of the instrument question, those of tempo, ornamentation, and articulation still remain… In our discussions of these problems it seems to us most imperative to separate as clearly as possible what we know to be fact from what is based only on personal interpretation and evaluation.” He prefers “to restudy the basic language of Bach’s time…with that spirit of humility we owe to its greatness, instead of debating how to adapt his music to the idiom of our contemporary musical conceptions.”

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, by Peter Wilson, from Harvard University Press

A Lesson in German Military History with Peter Wilson

In his landmark book Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, acclaimed historian Peter H. Wilson offers a masterful reappraisal of German militarism and warfighting over the last five centuries, leading to the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Below, Wilson answers our questions about this complex history,