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The Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano

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A tale of passion and obsession from a philosophy professor who teaches himself to play Bach on the piano. Dan Moller grew up listening to heavy metal in the Boston suburbs. But something changed when he dug out his mother's record of The Art of the Fugue, inexplicably wedged between 16 ABBA Hits and Kenny Rogers. Moller became fixated on Bach and his music, but only learne A tale of passion and obsession from a philosophy professor who teaches himself to play Bach on the piano. Dan Moller grew up listening to heavy metal in the Boston suburbs. But something changed when he dug out his mother's record of The Art of the Fugue, inexplicably wedged between 16 ABBA Hits and Kenny Rogers. Moller became fixated on Bach and his music, but only learned to play it for himself as an adult. In The Way of Bach, Moller draws us into the strange and surprisingly funny world of the composer and his scene. Did you know The Goldberg Variations contain a song about having to eat too much cabbage? Or that Handel nearly died in a duel he fought while conducting an opera? Along the way, Moller takes up such questions as, just what is so special about Bach’s music? What can Americans—steeped in pop culture—learn from European craftsmanship? And why do some people see a connection between Bach's music and God? By turns witty and thought-provoking, Moller infuses The Way of Bach with insights into music, culture, and philosophy alike.


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A tale of passion and obsession from a philosophy professor who teaches himself to play Bach on the piano. Dan Moller grew up listening to heavy metal in the Boston suburbs. But something changed when he dug out his mother's record of The Art of the Fugue, inexplicably wedged between 16 ABBA Hits and Kenny Rogers. Moller became fixated on Bach and his music, but only learne A tale of passion and obsession from a philosophy professor who teaches himself to play Bach on the piano. Dan Moller grew up listening to heavy metal in the Boston suburbs. But something changed when he dug out his mother's record of The Art of the Fugue, inexplicably wedged between 16 ABBA Hits and Kenny Rogers. Moller became fixated on Bach and his music, but only learned to play it for himself as an adult. In The Way of Bach, Moller draws us into the strange and surprisingly funny world of the composer and his scene. Did you know The Goldberg Variations contain a song about having to eat too much cabbage? Or that Handel nearly died in a duel he fought while conducting an opera? Along the way, Moller takes up such questions as, just what is so special about Bach’s music? What can Americans—steeped in pop culture—learn from European craftsmanship? And why do some people see a connection between Bach's music and God? By turns witty and thought-provoking, Moller infuses The Way of Bach with insights into music, culture, and philosophy alike.

45 review for The Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano

  1. 4 out of 5

    şahan

    This may be the best book I've read on music and the experience of music. Hilarious at times, a little too uneven at times, still brilliant. More should come. As literature. This may be the best book I've read on music and the experience of music. Hilarious at times, a little too uneven at times, still brilliant. More should come. As literature.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hattie

    many exquisite metaphors and musical imagery that captured my imagination. I grew to appreciate the less-accessible works of Bach. I wish I’d heard this one on audio. I wonder sometimes if the self-aggrandizement and self-absorption was a humorous choice, or just a fact that isn’t fully cloaked...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gaetano Venezia

    A solid memoir filled with relatable experiences of the highs and lows of striving towards unattainable goals. It was especially inspiring for me as my life has recently had similar background features: I have an MA in philosophy and thought I'd go the academic route for a while (Moller is a philosophy professor); I encountered Bach as a teenager and have only recently been re-enamored with his work; I recently started playing piano again and was really only interested in playing Bach, I've been A solid memoir filled with relatable experiences of the highs and lows of striving towards unattainable goals. It was especially inspiring for me as my life has recently had similar background features: I have an MA in philosophy and thought I'd go the academic route for a while (Moller is a philosophy professor); I encountered Bach as a teenager and have only recently been re-enamored with his work; I recently started playing piano again and was really only interested in playing Bach, I've been dealing with chronic pain (which has moreso limited me from playing guitar but still causes some problems on piano); I've suffered grief and anxiety at my limited abilities and limited time; and I've felt resentment towards work getting in the way of practicing. So reading Moller's memoir was deeply personal and inspiring. For that I give it 5 stars. However, this is a pretty niche set of interests and Moller doesn't do anything genre-defining and so I've given it a more modest and objective 3 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jan P

    Enjoyed going along on Moller's personal journey to understand Bach and tto learn to play his music: specifically "The Art of the Fugue". Not only does Moller explain his fascination with this particular piece of music and Bach but he generously exposes his thoughts, feelings and his life. I will say that with regard to musicology and Bach, it was information overload at times. But in a general way I found it extremely interesting. Moreover, I greatly enjoyed Moller's wry humor and sardonic with Enjoyed going along on Moller's personal journey to understand Bach and tto learn to play his music: specifically "The Art of the Fugue". Not only does Moller explain his fascination with this particular piece of music and Bach but he generously exposes his thoughts, feelings and his life. I will say that with regard to musicology and Bach, it was information overload at times. But in a general way I found it extremely interesting. Moreover, I greatly enjoyed Moller's wry humor and sardonic with along with his disparaging remark about his own life as a professor of Philosophy. It is a memoir of triumph over many hurdles with much self-searching thrown in for good measure. I recommend it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carole B

    Ornate and precise descriptions of both music and life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    William Dury

    Memoirs of an amateur pianist liberally sprinkled with thoughts about “America” and “Americans” of the “what we should be doing better” variety although, let’s be honest here, it’s more “what you guys should be doing better”. Anyway, you’ve got to root for anyone sincerely wrestling with the muses, although some of the narrative gets so caught up in itself one wonders if even Mr. Moller knew what he was talking about. Must make allowances for philosophy professors, I guess. Did like the general Memoirs of an amateur pianist liberally sprinkled with thoughts about “America” and “Americans” of the “what we should be doing better” variety although, let’s be honest here, it’s more “what you guys should be doing better”. Anyway, you’ve got to root for anyone sincerely wrestling with the muses, although some of the narrative gets so caught up in itself one wonders if even Mr. Moller knew what he was talking about. Must make allowances for philosophy professors, I guess. Did like the general thrust of his thoughts along the line of “craftsmanship” versus “genius.” And sympathized greatly with his hand injuries. Music is hard enough all by itself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Murray Goodman

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dale

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alison

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bookchick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Harry Dykeman

  13. 4 out of 5

    Doris

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annie

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mark Marchenko

  16. 4 out of 5

    Martin

  17. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeewon

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kierkegaard's Pancakes

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gina Dalfonzo

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vince

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Swartz

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

  25. 5 out of 5

    Raventh

  26. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carl

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tera Slawson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eric George

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate Welsh

  31. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

  32. 5 out of 5

    Emre Sevinç

  33. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  34. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

  35. 4 out of 5

    Abhishek Kumar

  36. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

  37. 4 out of 5

    Nathalie

  38. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  39. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

  40. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  41. 4 out of 5

    Arlan Vriens

  42. 5 out of 5

    Maryann

  43. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

  44. 5 out of 5

    Martha

  45. 5 out of 5

    Shaunterria

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