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Bach Perspectives, Volume 9J. S. Bach and His German Contemporaries$
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Andrew Talle

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038136

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038136.001.0001

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Bach versus Scheibe

Bach versus Scheibe

Hitherto Unknown Battlegrounds in a Famous Conflict

(p.120) Bach versus Scheibe
Bach Perspectives, Volume 9

Michael Maul

University of Illinois Press

On May 14, 1737, Johann Adolph Scheibe (1708–76), a twenty-nine-year-old music theorist and composer in Hamburg, published a Sendschreiben (“letter”) describing the experience of a fictional musician with twelve living composers. Many readers were able to recognize one of the composers as Johann Sebastian Bach. Johann Abraham Birnbaum (1702–48), a professor of rhetoric at Leipzig University, took offense at Scheibe's rather critical remarks on Bach's style and published a vigorous defense. The resulting dispute, known as the Scheibe-Birnbaum affair, generated a number of publications over the next decade and has long been recognized as one of the most important documents regarding the reception of Bach's music before 1750. This chapter considers the Scheibe-Birnbaum affair and the hitherto unknown dimensions of the battle between Scheibe and Bach himself.

Keywords:   J. S. Bach, Johann Adolph Scheibe, Johann Abraham Birnbaum, composers, classical music

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