Johann Sebastian Bach
Who was Bach? A Fast and Friendly Guide
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was music's most sublime creative genius. Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist of the Baroque Era.
- Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21st 1685 in Eisenach, Germany.
- The young Bach was offered a choral scholarship to the prestigious St Michael's School in 1699.
- 1703 saw Bach become the organist at St Boniface's Church in Arnstadt - a role that saw him on a regular salary and expanding his skills at the keyboard.
- Bach composed the cantata Gott ist mein König in 1708 - he was paid handsomely, and it helped him cement his early career.
- The Brandenburg Concertos were composed in 1721 as a sort-of musical job application for the Margrave Ludwig of Brandenburg - it was unsuccessful.
- In his later years Bach faced harsh criticism. During the 1720s and 1730s when he was composing his most important works - the Passions and the Goldberg Variations among them - a new Italian style invaded Germany, making his work appear outdated.
- The Well Tempered Clavier, a quintessential student text, was finished in 1744 and comprised two volumes of piano music in every musical key.
- With the notable exception of opera, Bach composed towering masterpieces in every major Baroque genre: sonatas, concertos, suites and cantatas, as well as innumerable keyboard, organ and choral works.
- Bach died on July 28th 1750 in Leipzig. It is still disputed whether it was a botched eye operation or a stroke caused by pneumonia were to blame for his death.
- Bach's popularity was decaying until 1829, when Mendelssohn performed the St Matthew Passion and rescued Bach from oblivion.
Did you know?
Bach once walked two hundred and thirteen miles to hear a performance by an organist whom he admired. Once he had heard the concert, he turned round and walked the same distance home again.
Bach: 15 facts about the great composer
Johann Sebastian Bach's music lives on today thanks to his amazing catalogue of concertos, choral, organ and keyboard works - but what happened during his lifetime?
Bach's biography: birth and tragedy in Eisenach (1685 - 1695)
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Classic FM Drive Featured Album, 8 June 2015
Classic FM Drive Featured Album, 24 November 2014
Top Bach Pieces
- Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
- Ensemble: Concentus Musicus Vienna;Vienna Boy's Choir
- Record Label: Teldec
- Catalog: 4509 917622
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