The book merely gives a detailed biography and combined interaction of two of the great men of all times. Both the personalities were quite different yet similar at the same time. Johann Sebastian Bach who is the Baroque master of contrapuntal music went on to meet King Frederick the Great. The King was an amazing King of Prussia who had gone to win many battles. Surely, a king would be someone who thought of himself as great and superior. King Frederick however was a powerful man who felt as if he could do anything. The live performance that took place between the two on the pianoforte has long been remembered as the Musical Offering. After the composition was made, there was yet another composition made that was dedicated entirely to the king. Many have argued that the reason Bach was called on by the King was to embarrass in him in the court full of people. The note that he was asked to me was so difficult that even Frederick himself could not have done it. Frederick knew the Bach's son Carl was able to make this note. Many even argue that he want the son to outshine the father and later embarrass Bach at the end.
In the book, Gaines goes on to say that there was nothing quite similar about the king and the composer. Even in this quote that he uses, the author goes on to show how the king was young but the composer was young. Even though they were decades and profession apart, there was something that still clicked. As Gaines mentions, both of the persons were firm in their roles and their fields of work that were determined by what family they were on. The Hohenzollern family had taken over Germany for more than three centuries before Frederick was born. It was stated in the beginning of the book that Frederick himself loved to play the flute. This shows that he was pushed into being a king rather than being chosen for one. Even though being a king wasn't something he hoped to be, Frederick went onto to show the world how a king should be. He showed the world different strategies on the battlefield. Along with being a warrior king, he was also known as the philosophical king. He was very literate and had a good taste in art as well. This showed that despite having different passions, Frederic went on to be an amazing king.
Another major thing that is highlighted in this book is the attitude both the persons have towards music. It is a similarity and a difference at the same time. Bach rooted for more the church music and the learned counterpoint of foe and cannon. In other words, he dwelled on rather the old and known form of music. Whereas, Frederick went for more delightful and the natural sound of music. He didn't really care about how the music came into being or what sort of art was used to make it. The only thing Frederic cared about the melody and the harmony that came about after the song was compiled.
Even though both the men had a musical insight and a passion for music, their ideas were quite different. Gaines mentions that both the musicians met at the topping point between ancient and modern culture. This clearly contrast and shows why and how their choice of music differed. It all depended on and correlated with their generation gap and how old they were. Bach has been stated as the father of the late Baroque whereas Frederick has been called the son of Early enlighten. This difference is the one that went on to the produce a very important moment in the history of music.
One difference that is seen between the two personalities is of their background. Where Bach belonged to the older darker Germany, Frederick was a son of the Aufklarung. This means that the time when Bach was born and raised, Germany and Europe as a whole was going through a tough time. Gaines even paints the picture in the gaining of the book where he talks about the type of town Bach was born in. He states that the town was walled and many spired and was gone to be tucked away in some sort of a forest. This shows that the town that Bach was born in and where most of the Bach's performed was a very god fearing town. This again highlights the fact that Bach himself got into this profession because of a strong family history. In the book it is mentioned that the Bach's used to perform three hundred years before Johann Sebastian was even born.
Thus the time Bach was born, the entire area was subject to famine, warfare and the plague. Gaines writes that about a third of the population was dead and what was left after the war was just a group of people who were very bankrupt. Even though Bach was a good musician, there was never a time where he didn't face hardship. Even though in the book, Gaines has shown both Bach's parents to cleave to religion quite a bit, Bach has been shown to be rebel. Bach's dad was a very extreme Lutheran whereas his mother belonged to a family of Anabaptists. Even though he held the faith, Johann Sebastian Bach himself stuck to the worldly pleasures. He was a very fierce and a vigorous artist who didn't really care what other people thought of him. As mentioned earlier, Bach did receive a lot of criticism in his work. Despite the criticism and lack of response from his audience, he did not stop believing in himself and in his work. This shows a major characteristic of Bach that he showed all along his life.
Another difference that both the persons had was the way that they were brought up. From the very start, Frederick-William was against his son. Even though in the start of the book Gaines mentions how Frederick loved to play the flute. He also goes on to state how his father hated it. Frederick was a homosexual and almost bisexual person who loved music and books. There was nothing manly about him as he dressed in satin and even curled his hair. This drifts us to yet another difference between the king and the composer. Where the composer comes in with a plethora of children and two wives, Frederick is still there with his stern attitude and confused sexual orientation.
Gaines wrote that the king used a degree of violence hoping to mold the boy (Frederick) into being how he would want him to be. The king made use of violence and used to kick and punch him to the ground. Even though a king now, Frederick was ridiculed to quite an extent when he was little. He was brought up in a very stern manner and ridiculed so many times that it was quite harsh. After doing one of the beatings, the king even himself said that his son doesn't have any honor and he can take a beating like this one.
Due to regular violent beating, Fredrick became very complained. Even though Frederick attempted to break away from this system and go away from his Prussian family, it didn't quite work out. Frederick was a person who loved art and music and didn't want to be king who waged wars. Sadly enough, he came under his father's wishes and took up the throne. Many people thought that he wouldn't be as bitter a king. Nonetheless, a few years after he took up the throne, Prussia was waging wars and fighting more than ever.
The story comes at a climax when both the men challenge each…