The Cello Suites

The Cello Suites

J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for A Baroque Masterpiece

Book - 2009
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One autumn evening, shortly after ending a ten-year stint as a pop-music columnist for the Montreal Gazette, Eric Siblin attended a concert at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. There, something unlikely happened: he fell in love with a piece of classical music -- Bach's cello suites. Part biography, part music history, and part literary mystery, The Cello Suites weaves together three dramatic stories: The first features Johann Sebastian Bach and the missing manuscript of his suites from the eighteenth century; the second is that of Pablo Casals and his incredible discovery of the manuscript in Spain in the early twentieth century; and the third is Eric Siblin's own infatuation with the suites in the twenty-first century.

This love affair leads Siblin to the back streets of Barcelona, a Belgian mansion, and a bombed out German palace; to interviews with cellists Mischa Maisky, Anner Bylsma, and Pieter Wispelwey; to archives, festivals, conferences, and cemeteries; and even to cello lessons -- all in pursuit of answers to the mysteries that continue to haunt this piece of music more than 250 years after its composer's death.

The Cello Suites is an incomparable, beautifully written, true-life journey of passion, imagination, and discovery, fuelled by the transcendent power of a musical masterpiece.

Publisher: Toronto : House of Anansi Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9780887842221
Characteristics: 319 p. ;,21 cm.


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SnoIsleLib_BrianH Mar 28, 2019

Significantly researched in all respects and written in a compelling way that allows the reader to follow along in parallel with both the lives of the composer J.S. Bach and the cellist Pablo Casals, who is most well known for rediscovering and championing these singular works for solo cello, the Bach Cello Suites. Author Eric Siblin immerses himself into the lives and music of Casals and Bach and traces each life to it's conclusion. By the end of his book you will be hard pressed to determine which musical figure fascinated him more. And you will find yourself wanting to explore and discover more about the music composed and performed by each of these musical geniuses.

Mar 20, 2017

Outstanding novel. I simply could not set the book down after opening. It is a lovely book about the history behind J.S. Bach and the world culture during that time frame. I found it very interesting how even our greatest Maestro's must grasp the assumption of how the Cello Suites are played. It is left to the human imagination. In short, that may have been what Bach was suggesting. Songs are simply more pleasurable when the human ear is left to imagination.

Nov 20, 2011

I'd like to chat with people who are reading this book -- one of the ones that just missed the cut for Canada Reads.

Love this piece of music. Fascinating book.

There could be a chat group for "Canada should also read... 2012"

Jan 12, 2011

I read and listened to the Cello Suites. It's worth borrowing the CD at the same time! It's a fascinating tale of the Suites and of course of Bach--but really--you come to think of the Suites as the subject of the book, with a story of their own brought to life by the hands of Pablo Casals and others. I loved this book.

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