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Beyond BachMusic and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century$
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Andrew Talle

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040849

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252040849.001.0001

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May God Protect This Beautiful Organ

May God Protect This Beautiful Organ

(p.196) Chapter 9 May God Protect This Beautiful Organ
Beyond Bach

Andrew Talle

University of Illinois Press

In chapter nine, Gottfried Silbermann’s construction of a new organ in the small town of Rötha serves as a case study of such projects, which were undertaken frequently in Bach’s Germany. Its unveiling in 1721 was celebrated with a performance led by Johann Kuhnau, Bach’s predecessor as Cantor of St. Thomas. Impressive organs like the one built in Rötha were spectacular feats of engineering and artistry. Such instruments were among the most complicated pieces of technology in existence and there was something promethean about the work of Silbermann and other organ builders: their work came as close as human beings ever did to fabricating fellow living creatures. As a result, organs often figured in the analogies of philosophers of the era, particularly those who sought to preserve a distinction between the physical (organ) and metaphysical (organist).

Keywords:   Silbermann, Kuhnau, Rötha, Organ, Technology, Philosophy, Physical vs. Metaphysical

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