A Pulitzer Prize finalist for his landmark biography of Johann Sebastian Bach and the former director of Germany's renowned Leipzig Bach-Archiv, Christoph Wolff has towered for decades as the world's preeminent authority on the great composer.
The longtime Harvard professor, whose first appearance in Kansas City drew a capacity crowd to the Library seven years ago, returns Saturday, November 22, 2014. Wolff joins the Bach Aria Soloists in a 7:30 p.m. performance at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., providing commentary and insight into Bach's life and works throughout the ensemble's musical presentation.
Among other selections, the event will feature Bach's Partita No. 1 in B minor for Violin, Toccata in D for harpsichord, and recitatives and arias from Cantata No. 204.
Born and educated in Germany, Wolff is the Adams University Professor at Harvard and curator of the university's Isham Memorial Library - a major resource for scholarly research in music. He joined Harvard's faculty in 1976, and has served as chair of its music department, acting director of the university library, and dean of the graduate school of Arts and Sciences.
His specialty is music from the 17th to the early 19th centuries, particularly that of Bach and Mozart, and Wolff has written extensively about both composers. His Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician, released on the 250th anniversary of the Bach's death, was one of two runners-up for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for biography or autobiography.
He also is credited with the recovery of a number of lost or unknown Bach manuscripts.
In 1984, Wolff unearthed 33 previously unknown works — misleadingly labeled since 1852 — at the Yale School of Music. Fifteen years later, he took part in the discovery of a collection of scores by Bach's oldest son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, hidden in a Ukrainian archive in Kiev. Missing since the 1940s, the sheets had been moved from Berlin to the German province of Silesia during World War II and disappeared behind the Iron Curtain when Silesia reverted to Polish jurisdiction.
Wolff's 2007 appearance at the Library also accompanied a Bach Aria Soloists concert. The chamber music ensemble — now in its 15th season — features founder, artistic director, and violinist Elizabeth Suh Lane; harpsichordist Elisa Williams Bickers; and guitarist Beau Bledsoe along with soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson.
Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.