Faculty Books

Sara Levy's World: Judaism, Gender, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin

Rebecca Cypess and Nancy Sinkoff

Published: Boydell and Brewer, University of Rochester Press, 2018

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A rich interdisciplinary exploration of the world of Sara Levy, a Jewish salonnière and skilled performing musician in late eighteenth-century Berlin, and her impact on the Bach revival, German-Jewish life, and Enlightenment culture.

Sara Levy née Itzig (1761-1854), a salonnière, skilled performing musician, and active participant in enlightened Prussian Jewish society, played a powerful role in shaping the dynamic cultural world of late eighteenth- and earlynineteenth-century Berlin. A patron and collector of music, she studied harpsichord with Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-84) and commissioned musical compositions from both Friedemann and his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-88). Archival evidence demonstrates Levy's position as an essential link in the transmission of the music of their father, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), and as a catalyst for the "Bach revival" of the early nineteenth century, which was led by her great-nephew Felix Mendelssohn.

Sara Levy's World: Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin represents the first scholarly exploration of the cultural, political, and aesthetic contexts that shaped Levy's world. Bringing together leading scholars from the fields of musicology, Jewish Studies, history, literary studies, gender studies, and philosophy, this volume presents cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research on the numerous mutually reinforcing aspects of Levy's life and work.

 

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