“Bach and Authority”
Biennial Meeting of the American Bach Society
Temple University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
October 7–9, 2022
Call for Papers

For questions about the upcoming conference, please contact Ellen Exner: vicepresident [at] americanbachsociety.org

CFP deadline: 1 February 2022
Email proposals to: vicepresident@americanbachsociety.org

For nearly two centuries, Johann Sebastian Bach’s music has been held up as a paradigm of compositional technique and measure of artistic merit within the Western Art canon. His chorales, fugues, and formal procedures in particular continue to serve as pedagogical models while concerts of his music have created devoted audiences and inspired ongoing experiments in historical performance. Bach, as we have received him, is undeniably an authority figure; he is also a symbol of the Patriarchy. As such, his position in modern culture warrants new scrutiny.

In his own context, Bach was hardly free of conflict with the various authorities around him, whether political, religious, musical, or otherwise. His own authoritative image has also been leveraged over the centuries for purposes both savory and sinister.

We invite papers for this conference that explore the many ways in which Bach and his music intersect with aspects of Authority, in more recent contexts or in his own time. Topics might include (but are by no means limited to):

  • Bach as Authority (on organ building, as school official, and other roles)
  • Bach as Symbol (of Authority; in Music Criticism; in Pop Culture; of Compositional Perfection; of the Western Art Canon; of the Patriarchy) 
  • Bach and the authorities of his time (with them; against them)
  • Bach and authoritarian regimes
  • Bach Authorities (Scholars; Scholarship; Pseudo-scholarship)

Topics on other aspects of Bach research will be considered, but those that align with the conference theme will be given priority.

Abstracts of up to 300 words should include a title and emphasize the results of research, and should be sent by email in MS Word format [last name.first name.docx] to vicepresident@americanbachsociety.org by 1 February 2022. Please include your name, institutional affiliation or city of residence, and any audio/visual needs you anticipate. Proposals for performance-presentations are also welcome. Presentations will be limited to 30 minutes.