New book on Bach reveals the abuse and thuggish behaviour he probably received at school

Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s new biography of JS Bach Music in the Castle of Heaven shows a different world to the distant, sanitised one we are often presented with when we hear about the composer.

imageArchival sources, including school inspector reports, reveal that Bach’s education was troubled by gang warfare and bullying, sadism and sodomy – as well as his own extensive truancy.

His first school, Eisenach Latin school in Thuringia, Germany, was largely attended by the children of bourgeois tradespeople. However, Gardiner said that documents damn the boys as “rowdy, subversive, thuggish, beer- and wine-loving, girl-chasing … breaking windows and brandishing their daggers”. He added: “More disquieting were rumours of a ‘brutalisation of the boys’ and evidence that many parents kept their children at home – not because they were sick, but for fear of what went on in or outside school.” For punishment, Bach’s contemporaries endured beatings and the threat of “eternal damnation”. Such experiences must have left “lasting scars” on him, Gardiner believes.
Read more in the Guardian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.