Bach's biography: family in Weimar (1708 - 1717)

Balancing a family and a career, getting on the wrong side a duke, ending up in prison... discover Bach's years living and working in Weimar.

Bach returned to Weimar as a member of the chamber orchestra and as organist to the court. His larger salary meant he could move into an apartment close to the palace, and his first child was born: Catharina Dorothea Bach (1708 – 1774). Maria Barbara's sister also joined the family, helping to run the household until her death in 1729.

Working in Weimar, Bach soon became known as one of Germany's greatest composers, taking on organ pupils from far and wide. He started to become influenced by fellow Baroque composers including Vivaldi, Corelli and Torelli.

As his career took off, his family grew quickly. Before he turned 30 in 1715, Bach had already fathered five children, balancing his family life with a busy musical career. When he was invited to become organist on a visit to Halle, he decided to refuse the post as the salary and living conditions could not provide enough financial support for his family.

After being introduced to the Court of Anhalt-Cöthen, Bach was offered the post of Konzertmeister at Weimar on 2 March. Unfortunately, this angered the Duke of Weimar, who had him arrested after he was unfavourably dismissed. Even during his stay in prison, Bach remained productive, composing enough organ preludes to perform as a year-long cycle, known as the Orgelbüchlein.