When 13-year-old Stefan Silbermann’s mother died, his father sent him away to a boarding school in Leipzig. (Gottfried Silbermann made and serviced church organs.) At the school Johann Sebastian Bach is the cantor. Stefan’s beautiful voice attracts the attention of Bach which causes bullying from the other boys. They are extremely jealous. Bach is aware of the bullying and invites Stefan to live at his home with his wife and children. Everyone lives and breathes music at the Bach home. All are required to practice and perform for the family. Anna Magdalena, Bach’s second wife, is a talented vocalist, but women are not allowed to sing publicly in church. She spends time with Stefan helping him to learn new music Bach composes on a regular basis. Catharina, Bach’s oldest child, becomes a favorite of Stefan.
The novel is told from Stefan’s point of view decades later. It’s a novel of love, loss, and grief.