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The Way of Bach

Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano

A tale of passion and obsession from a philosophy professor who learns to play Bach on the piano as an adult.

Dan Moller grew up listening to heavy metal in teh Boston suburbs.  But one day, something shifted when he dug out his mother's record of The Art of the Fugue, inexplicably wedged between ABBA's greatest hits and Kenny Rogers.  Moller was fixated on Bach ever since.  

In The Way of Bach, he draws us into fresh and often improbably hilarious things about Bach and his music.  Did you know the Goldberg Variations contain a song about his mom cooking too much cabbage?

Just what is so special about Bach’s music? Why does it continue to resonate even today? What can modern Americans—steeped in pop culture—can learn from European craftsmanship? And, because it is Bach, why do some people see a connection between music and God?

By turn witty and though-provoking, Moller infuses The Way of Bach with philosophical considerations about how music and art enable us to contemplate life's biggest questions.

“Intellectual rigor yielding pure musical art. Will move anyone seeking to grasp the power of music in human existence.”

– Booklist, starred review

"Moller’s encounter with Bach’s music faces him off with an entity as stubborn and searching as he is. In this confrontation, the piano becomes a tool of spiritual and physical struggle, a glorious contraption that elicits from its player philosophical reflections not just on music but on work, art, love, teaching, learning, God, humanity, life and death. Moller packs these and other big ideas into wisecracks and freewheelingly erudite comparisons and cultural references. He reveals much of himself while struggling with Bach’s fugues at the keyboard and away from it: stretches of frustration lead to epiphanies; musical setbacks and successes interlock in counterpoint both comic and profound. The intelligence and beauty of Bach’s works can never be fully explained, but Moller illuminates and inspires with his unique appreciation. We experience anew how this music can transform those unafraid of its intimate, yet far-reaching challenges."

– David Gaynor Yearsley, author of BACH AND THE MEANING OF COUNTERPOINT and BACH'S FEET

“A superb biographical vignette. Alternately scholarly and effusive.  An eccentric, adoring tribute to Bach.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"A bright, honest, and refreshing reminder that the most worthy pursuits in life are not those that come easily, but those that come from painstaking craftmanship and devotion.  Anyone who has ever pursued a passion will find joy in this story.”

 

– Audrey Wright, Associate Concertmaster, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

“Highly personal, beautifully written, hugely inspiring.”

– Jerrold Levinson, professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, author of Musical Concerns