Peter Williams approaches afresh the life and music of arguably the most studied of all composers, interpreting both Bach's life by deconstructing his original obituary in the light of more recent information and his music by evaluating his priorities and irrepressible creative energy. How, even though belonging to musical families on both his parents' sides, did he come to possess so bewitching a sense of rhythm and melody and a mastery of harmony that established thing less than a rm in Western culture? In considering that the works of a composer are his biography, the book's title A Life in Music means both a life spent making music and one revealed in the music as we kw it. A distinguished scholar and performer, Williams re-examines Bach's life as an orphan and family man, as an extraordinarily gifted composer and player and as an ambitious artist who never suffered fools gladly.
Peter Williams (1937-2016) held the first Chair in Performance Practice in Britain at the University of Edinburgh, where he was first Director of the Russell Collection of Harpsichords and latterly Dean of Music. He was also the first Arts and Sciences Distinguished Chair at Duke University, North Carolina. He authored many books, including The European Organ (1966), Bach: The Goldberg Variations (Cambridge, 2001), Figured Bass Accompaniment (1970), The Organ in Western Culture, 750-1250 (Cambridge, 1993), The Chromatic Fourth during Four Centuries of Music (1998) and The Organ Music of J. S. Bach (Cambridge, 2003).