The conclusion of Beyond Bach affirms the principle that music is not an object but rather a means by which human beings relate to one another. In Bach’s Germany, those who heard keyboard performances listened not only to the notes and rhythms themselves but also for what they revealed about the character of those who played them. While keyboards were regarded by Bach’s contemporaries as having a civilizing effect, the innocence with which they were associated often veiled more controversial activities. Bach himself was universally admired for his extraordinary skills but many listeners found his music frustrating for its challenges. For a relatively small group of connoisseurs, however, his work embodied the noble ideal that music could do more than entertain.
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