JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH BIOGRAPHY
BIRTH: March 31, 1685,
Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany
DEATH:July 28, 1750,
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and a musician of the Baroque period. His most famous compositions include “Brandenburg Concertos”, “Massin B Minor”, “The Well-Tempered Clavier” and “Goldberg Variations”.
Johann Sebastian was born to Johann Ambrosius and Elizabeth Lmmerhirt Bach on 31st March, 1685. His father was a town musician and a church organist in Eisenach. His father had taught him to play the harpsichord and the violin. Both his parents passed away in the 1694.
His elder brother, Johann Christoph took two of his younger brothers under his care. Johann Sebastian (ten years old) and Johann Jacob Bach (thirteen years old) moved to Ohrdruf, Germany with him. Johann Christoph was an organist at St. Michael’s Church.
Johann Sebastian Bach was appointed as Mettenchor at the school at Michaelskirche. As his voice changed, he started focusing on playing the violin and harpsichord. Organist George Böhm heavily influenced him. Bach went to Lubeck in 1705 to listen to organist Dietrich Buxtehude play. Bach became an organist at the Church of St. Blaise in Mühlhausen in 1707. His famous composition from that time includes the cantata “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit”, also called “Actus Tragicus”.
In 1708, Bach found a position as the court organist of Duke Wilhelm Ernst and went back to Weimar. He wrote, “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” and the cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat” (“Heart and Mouth and Deed”) during this time.
Bach accepted the position of Kapellmeister for Prince Leopold of Köthen in 1717. Bach journeyed to Köthen where he focused on instrumental music and created some of his greatest works.
Bach composed the “Brandenburg Concertos” in 1721 in honor of the Duke of Brandenburg. It is considered one of the best compositions of this era. He also completed the “Well-Tempered
Clavier” around this time. In 1723, he became the new organist for St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.
He had to supply music to four churches as the director of church music for the city. He acquired
the directorship of the Collegium Musicum in 1729. It was a secular musical ensemble of professional and amateur musicians.
His secular compositions comprised of musical interpretations of the Bible. One of the examples being his Passions. The “St. Matthew Passion” is based on the stories of chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew.
Bach became a court composer in Saxony in 173 Bach’s ‘The Goldberg Variations’ was published in 1741. It was named after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg Bach joined the Correspondierende Societät der musicalischen Wissenschaften (Corresponding Society of the Musical Sciences) founded by his former pupil Lorenz Christoph Mizler Von Koloff in 1747. He also performed for the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, in the same year. He composed a set of fugues, “Musical Offerings” for the Prussian King. His health and eyesight began to decline around this time.
His major work, “Mass in B-Major” was comp- leted in 1749. Its section “Kyrie and Gloria” was presented to the Elector of Saxony. His last work, “The Art of Fugue”, was left incomplete as he passed away the next year. It was still published in 1751. Bach became completely blind four months before his death due to an eye operation.
Bach married twice and his last marriage was to Anna Magdalena Wilcke, a court singer. He had four children from his first marriage and six from his second. Many of Bach’s children became renowned singers.
Bach passed away on 28th July, 1750 due to a stroke. He died in Leipzig at the age of sixty-five. During his lifetime, Bach wasn’t paid adequately. Neither was he well appreciated for his talent. In 1829, German composer Felix Mendelssohn reintroduced Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion”. This brought new popularity to Bach. Pablo Casals also helped in popularizing Bach’s “Cello Suites”. Bach is referred to as one of the best composers of the Baroque period and remains a major figure
amongst classical musicians.