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In an article about Bach, the author wrote:

No one ever showed so many ingenious and unusual ideas as he in elaborate pieces such as ordinarily seem dry exercises in craftsmanship.

I could understand the sentence without the phrase "in craftsmanship". But with it, I couldn't understand.

What does it mean here, and what does the sentence mean?

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  • @WeatherVane Since your answer is a perfectly good answer, why not put it in an answer?
    – fred2
    Feb 11, 2019 at 17:30

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It means the same thing with the extra two words.

The exercises are exercises in craftmanship, which means the craft of playing the musical instrument. That is the point of exercises and studies, but they are often seen as boring, like any repetitive practice.

Some composers were so good that their exercises are worth listening to in their own right.

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