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From 1500, the independent use of the feet in musical performance at the organ was unique to Germany and vital to its cultural standing in Europe. Yearsley presents an account of this mode of music-making spanning some 500 years, including reappraising J. S. Bach's crucial role in that history.
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'There is much to enjoy in this compelling study.' Early Music
'Part of [Yearsley's] intent in writing Bach's Feet, which is clearly a labor of love, is to reintroduce the organ into general musicological discourse, and perhaps even attract some lay readers. His book certainly deserves to succeed in its mission, and the organ, as he says, is 'ready for a comeback'.' Notes
The organist seated at the king of instruments with thousands of pipes rising all around him, his hands busy at the manuals and his feet patrolling the pedalboard, is a symbol of musical self-sufficiency yielding musical possibilities beyond that of any other mode of solo performance. In this book, David Yearsley presents a new interpretation of the significance of the oldest and richest of European instruments, by investigating the German origins of the uniquely independent use of the feet in organ playing. Delving into a range of musical, literary and visual sources, Bach's Feet demonstrates the cultural importance of this physically demanding mode of music-making, from the blind German organists of the fifteenth century, through the central contribution of Bach's music and legacy, to the newly-pedaling organists of the British Empire and the sinister visions of Nazi propagandists.
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