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Drawing upon a rich array of sources from archives in Leipzig, Dresden and Halle, Dr Tanya Kevorkian illuminates culture in Leipzig before and during J.S. Bach's time spent in the city. Working with these sources, it has been possible to reconstruct the contexts of Baroque and Pietist cultures at key periods in theirdevelopment much more specifically than has been done previously. Kevorkian shows that high Baroque culture emerged through a combination of traditional frameworks and practices, and an infusion of change that set in from around 1680. For example, new secular arenas appeared, influencing church music and provoking reactions from Pietists, who developed alternative meeting, networking and liturgical styles.
The book focuses on the everyday practices and active roles of audiences in public religious life. It examines music performance and reception from the perspectives of both 'ordinary' people and elites. Church services are studied in detail, providing a broad sense of how people behaved and listened to the music. Kevorkian also reconstructs the world of patronage and power of city councilors and clerics as they interacted with other Leipzig inhabitants, and thereby illuminating the working environment of J.S. Bach, Telemann and other musicians. In addition, Kevorkian reconstructs the social history of Pietists in Leipzig from 1688 to the 1730s.