The Musician in Literature in the Age of Bach

Research output: Book/ReportBook


A study of how musicians are represented in prose literature from German-speaking lands between 1660 and 1740, focusing on satirical novels written by such musicians as Wolfgang Caspar Printz, Johann Beer, Johann Kuhnau, and Daniel Speer. It also considers the autobiographies written by contemporaries of J.S. Bach, particularly those life-stories collected in Johann Mattheson’s Grundlage einer Ehrenpforte (1740). These narratives represent musicians variously as picaresque outcasts, honorable craft-workers, foolish bunglers, and respected virtuosos. They describe the lives of organists, cantors, and town musicians, and also those performers considered taboo or aberrant in the period, such as street entertainers and Italian castratos. The novels and autobiographies reveal two major debates that shaped the mindset and social status of musicians: was music a sensual or rational craft, and should musicians integrate within society or be regarded as outsiders?

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages237
ISBN (Print)978-1-107-00428-3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Bach, Johann Sebastian
  • novel
  • Kuhnau, Johann
  • Printz, Wolfgang Caspar
  • Speer, Daniel

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