David Gordon, in many ways, is the soul and essence of the Carmel Bach Festival. His contributions over the past thirty years as a performer, teacher and dramaturge have enriched both us and the festival. Now he has written a brief 140 page book that reveals insights into Johann Sebastian Bach’s daily life in a series of anecdotes, timelines and fascinating isolated facts revealing what it was like to live in Bach’s time.
Not only will you learn details about Bach’s career relative to the churches and courts who employed him — the struggles he endured and the successes he achieved — but, you will also learn about living conditions in the first two quarters of 18th century Europe. You will learn what people ate and drank, their personal habits relative to clothing, and social activities relative to the rapid expansion of coffee houses. You also will learn about fleas, body lice, domestic living arrangements, medical and dental procedures plus information about what passed for hygiene and sanitation during this period. Gordon has included a generous number of illustrations of objects (some even used to pull teeth), places and people (especially family members where we have extant portraits).
We have always admired how Gordon can discuss a complicated subject and adjust his communicative style so it is meaningful whether his audience is a group of fidgety seven year olds, a Carmel Bach Festival audience or a group of university PhD candidates. If you have heard his lectures, you will know how he can command our attention with charm and exotic information you didn’t even know existed.
This book has that ability to grab your attention and hold you riveted throughout. If you buy only one item at the Carmel Bach Festival boutique, let it be this book.