Beginning with remarks on the complementary functions of basic research and interpretive scholarship, the first part of the essay focuses on varying concepts of Bach images, discusses authentic and unauthentic Bach portraits as well as images of the composer's personality, and criticizes the often insufficient regard for basic research. The second part of the article deals with the development of Bach's self-image on the basis of documentary evidence and its interpretation. It suggests that the composer himself contributed significantly during his lifetime to the shape of the emerging ““genius”” image that emerges during the second half of the 18th century and that constitutes the foundation of the icon of ““the man from whom all musical wisdom proceeded”” (Haydn).
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