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Night within the Palace of Purpose: Bach Meets Frederick the Nice within the Age of Enlightenment

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In a single nook, a godless younger warrior, Voltaire’s heralded ‘philosopher-king’, the It Boy of the Enlightenment. Within the different, a religious if bad-tempered previous composer of ‘outdated’ music, a scorned genius in his final years. The sparks from their temporary battle illuminate a turbulent age.

Behind the pomp and flash, Prussia's Frederick the Nice was a tormented man, son of an abusive king who compelled him to observe as his finest buddy (in all probability his lover) was beheaded. In what could have been one in every of historical past's crueler sensible jokes, Frederick challenged ‘previous Bach’ to a musical duel, asking him to improvise a six-part fugue based mostly on an impossibly intricate theme (presumably devised for him by Bach's personal son).

Bach left the courtroom fuming, however in a fever of composition, he used the coded, alchemical language of counterpoint to put in writing ‘A Musical Providing’ in response. A stirring declaration of religion, it represented ‘as stark a rebuke of his beliefs and world view as an absolute monarch has ever acquired,’ Gaines writes. It’s also one of many nice artworks within the historical past of music.

Set on the tipping level between the traditional and the fashionable world, the triumphant story of Bach's victory expands to absorb the tumult of the eighteenth century: the legacy of the Reformation, wars and conquest, the beginning of the Enlightenment. Brimming with originality and wit, ‘Night within the Palace of Purpose’ is historical past of the very best sort – intimate in scale and broad in its imaginative and prescient.

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Night within the Palace of Purpose: Bach Meets Frederick the Nice within the Age of Enlightenment
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