Professor of Music, Emeritus Don O. Franklin has earned many accolades and held numerous leadership roles in the field of Bach scholarship. It’s perhaps not surprising then (but no less significant) that the latest recognition of his storied career comes in the form of a volume of essays in his honor. Compositional Choices and Meaning in the Vocal Music of J.S. Bach (Lexington Books), edited by Mark A. Peters (PhD 2003) and Reginald L. Sanders, takes a multi-faceted approach to Bach’s vocal music, placing his work in historical, theological, and analytical contexts. The book includes 17 essays from American and European scholars and stands out among festschrift-style publications for the way in which all contributors address a single topic, thus providing a highly focused addition to the existing literature.
In the Foreword, Series Editor Robin A. Leaver praises Franklin saying,
“Together these essays celebrate Don O. Franklin, who for most of the past half-century has been a prominent leader in American Bach studies—in public by his teaching, writing and performing, and in private by his encouragement, guidance and insight—all of it communicated with skill, knowledge, experience, and grace.”
Further evidence of Franklin’s ongoing impact in the world of Bach studies is amply provided by his former students who are well-represented in the collection. Along with his editing duties, the aforementioned Mark Peters (Trinity Christian College) contributed an article and was joined by his fellow music department alumni Jason B. Grant (PhD 2005, Packard Humanities Institute), Kayoung Lee (PhD, 2005, Sungshin Women’s University), and Stephen Saunders (PhD, 1990, Colby College).
Compositional Choices and Meaning in the Vocal Music of J.S. Bach promises to provide insight into Bach studies for many years to come, and so it is a fitting tribute to Don Franklin’s scholarly legacy.