(Re)constructing Johann Sebastian Bach: reception history and performance practice in New York City during the Great War
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The perception of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) in New York City during the time of the Great War can be illuminated through two threads: 1) reception history and reputation, and 2) contemporary performance practices. Between 1914 and 1927, the reputation of Bach migrated away from one having nationalistic and Romantic associations to one embodying both a "universal" objectivity and a distinctly American subjectivity. Similarly, the manner in which Bach's music was performed also changed. Before the Great War, transcribing and arranging Bach's music was common. After the war, some New York City critics began to advocate for Bach's music to be played as historical reconstructions. Transcriptions and arrangements continued to be performed alongside historical reconstructions, and both a subjective and historically "objective" approaches to performing the composer's music existed. New York City musician William Henry Humiston (1869-1923) and his idea of Bach provides a useful case study of one musician's approach to understanding the composer. Humiston's perception of the Baroque composer and his own transcriptions and arrangements of Bach's music reveal a blend of both personal subjectivity and historical awareness.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Johann Sebastian Back and the Great War -- Bach's dualistic performance practice -- William Henry Humiston and Johann Sebastian Bach -- Conclusion -- Appendix A. Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, transcribed by William Henry Humiston -- Appendix B. Johan Sebastian Bach's "Watch ye, pray ye," arranged by William Henry M. Humiston -- Appendix C. Permission to publish