‘A masterpiece’ SCOTSMAN
‘A wise, refreshing novel, and a touching human story … Runcie has an expert imagination’ HILARY MANTEL
Love and Death.
Grief and Joy.
Music that lasts forever.
Leipzig, 1726. Eleven-year-old Stefan Silbermann, a humble organ-maker’s son, has just lost his mother. Sent to Leipzig to train as a singer in the St Thomas Church choir, he struggles to stay afloat in a school where the teachers are as casually cruel as the students.
Stefan’s talent draws the attention of the Cantor - Johann Sebastian Bach. Eccentric, obsessive and kind, he rescues Stefan from the miseries of school by bringing him into his home as an apprentice. Soon Stefan feels that this ferociously clever, chaotic family is his own. But when tragedy strikes, Stefan’s period of sanctuary in their household comes to a close.
Something is happening, though. In the depths of his loss, the Cantor is writing a new work: the Saint Matthew Passion, to be performed for the first time on Good Friday. As Stefan watches the work rehearsed, he realises he is witness to the creation of one of the most extraordinary pieces of music that has ever been written.
‘Brilliant … Readers will be enriched by this novel and its glimpse at genius’ The Times, Historical Fiction of the Month
‘Warmly, reverently, Runcie brings alive what it is like to take part, for the very first time, in one of the most extraordinary pieces of music ever written’ Daily Telegraph