Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 498 pp., $30.00
Halfway through reading Paul Elie's "Reinventing Bach," I suddenly got dizzy. An earthquake? All-purpose angst? Or could it be that Bach was working as an agent of transcendence on me as he did on this sincere author?
The basic pillars of this study are sturdy. Elie looks at how a composer influenced the outer and inner lives of four key 20th century Bachians — Albert Schweitzer, Pablo Casals, Leopold Stokowski and Glenn Gould — and how they then not only contributed to making Bach central to the modern musical experience but also radicalized...