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Polish Style in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach

Szymon Paczkowski

Hardback
eBook

Now appearing in an English translation, this book by Szymon Paczkowski is the first in-depth exploration of the Polish style in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach spent almost thirty years living and working in Leipzig in Saxony, a country ruled by Friedrich August I and his son Friedrich August II, who were also kings of Poland (as August II and August III). This period of close Polish-Saxon relations left a significant imprint on Bach’s music.


Paczkowski’s meticulous account of this complex political and cultural dynamic sheds new light on many of Bach’s familiar pieces. The book explores the semantic and rhetorical functions that undergird the symbolism of the Polish style in Baroque music. It demonstrates how the notion of a Polish style in music was developed in German music theory, and conjectures that Bach’s successful application for the title of Court Composer at the court of the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland would induce the composer to deliberately use elements of the Polish style.


This comprehensive study of the way Bach used the Polish style in his music moves beyond technical analysis to place the pieces within the context of Baroque customs and discourse. This ambitious and inspiring study is an original contribution to the scholarly conversation concerning Bach’s music, focusing on the symbolism of the polonaise, the most popular and recognizable Polish dance in 18th-century Saxony. In Saxony at this time the polonaise was associated with the ceremonies of the royal-electoral court in Dresden, and Saxon musicians regarded it as a musical symbol of royalty. Paczkowski explores this symbolism of the Polish royal dance in Bach’s instrumental music and, which is also to be found to an even greater extent, in his vocal works.


The Polish Style in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach provides wide-ranging interpretations based on a careful analysis of the sources explored within historical and theological context. The book is a valuable source for both teaching and further research, and will find readers not only among musicologists, but also historians, art historians, and readers in cultural studies. All lovers of Bach’s music will appreciate this lucid and intriguing study.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 418Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-0-8108-8893-7 • Hardback • March 2017 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-0-8108-8894-4 • eBook • March 2017 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
Szymon Paczkowski is a professor at the Institute of Musicology, University of Warsaw. He has published extensively on the aesthetics of Baroque music and opera history in the 17th-19th centuries. As an expert he has collaborated on numerous projects with the Warsaw Philharmonic, the National Opera in Warsaw, and Poland’s National Public Radio.
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