Although the music of Johann Sebastian Bach is well known, his outlook and social environment are harder to document. He rarely aired his opinions in letters, seemingly preferring to express himself in music rather than words. As Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach said, ‘with his many activities he scarcely had time for the most necessary correspondence, and accordingly did not indulge in lengthy written exchanges.’ Yet there are many primary sources documenting Bach's milieu, in particular the social and religious climate in Leipzig where he spent the last 27 years of his career. Only recently have musicologists begun to explore such sources: Christoph Wolff, for instance, examined Bach's links with Leipzig academics in J. S. Bach: the learned musician (New York, 2000).

The intellectual world of early 18th-century Leipzig is the focus...

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