The Musician in Literature in the Age of Bach
Using novels and autobiographies from Bach's Germany, Stephen Rose suggests new ways of interpreting the lives and social status of musicians. This study focuses on satirical novels written by musicians that describe the lives of performers and composers, as well as the autobiographies of Bach's contemporaries. These narratives represent musicians variously as picaresque outcasts, honourable craft-workers, foolish bunglers and respected virtuosos. They probe the lives of musicians considered taboo or aberrant in the period, such as street entertainers and Italian castratos. The novels and autobiographies also reveal two major debates that shaped the mindset and social identity of musicians: was music a sensual or rational craft, and should musicians integrate within society or be regarded as outsiders? Quoting from an array of little-known novels, this book shows how an interdisciplinary approach can transform our understanding of Bach and his contemporaries.