New Book | The Temple of Fame and Friendship

Posted in books by Editor on March 3, 2023

Distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Annette Richards, The Temple of Fame and Friendship: Portraits, Music, and History in the C. P. E. Bach Circle (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,) 336 pages, ISBN: 978-0226806266, $55.

One of the most celebrated German composers of the eighteenth century, C. P. E. Bach spent decades assembling an extensive portrait collection of some four hundred music-related items—from oil paintings to engraved prints. The collection was dispersed after Bach’s death in 1788, but with Annette Richards’s painstaking reconstruction, the portraits once again present a vivid panorama of music history and culture, reanimating the sensibility and humor of Bach’s time. Far more than a mere multitude of faces, Richards argues, the collection was a major part of the composer’s work that sought to establish music as an object of aesthetic, philosophical, and historical study.

The Temple of Fame and Friendship brings C. P. E. Bach’s collection to life, giving readers a sense of what it was like for visitors to tour the portrait gallery and experience music in rooms thick with the faces of friends, colleagues, and forebears. She uses the collection to analyze the ‘portraitive’ aspect of Bach’s music, engaging with the influential theories of Swiss physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater. She also explores the collection as a mode of cultivating and preserving friendship, connecting this to the culture of remembrance that resonates in Bach’s domestic music. Richards shows how the new music historiography of the late eighteenth century, rich in anecdote, memoir, and verbal portrait, was deeply indebted to portrait collecting and its negotiation between presence and detachment, fact and feeling.

Annette Richards is Given Foundation Professor in the Humanities and university organist at Cornell University, where she is also professor of music and director of the Cornell-Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies. She is the author of The Free Fantasia and the Musical Picturesque; the editor of C. P. E Bach Studies; coeditor, with Mark Franko, of Acting on the Past; and the founding editor of Keyboard Perspectives.


1  Exhibiting: The Bach Gallery and the Art of Self-Fashioning
2  Collecting: C. P. E. Bach and Portrait Mania
3  Speculation: Likeness, Resemblance, and Error
4  Character: Faces, Physiognomy, and Time
5  Friendship: Portrait Drawings and the Trace of Modern Life
6  Feeling: Objects of Sensibility and the ‘Portrait of Myself’
7  Memorializing: Portraits and the Invention of Music History


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