Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist of the Baroque period.
He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Mass in B minor, the The Well-Tempered Clavier, two Passions, keyboard works, and more than 300 cantatas of which nearly 100 cantatas have been lost to posterity.His music is revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty.
Bach was born in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach, into a great musical family; his father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was the director of the town musicians, and all of his uncles were professional musicians. His father probably taught him to play violin and harpsichord, and his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him the clavichord and exposed him to much contemporary music. Apparently at his own initiative, Bach attended St Michael's School in Lüneburg for two years. After graduating, he held several musical posts across Germany: he served as Kapellmeister (director of music) to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Cantor of Thomasschule in Leipzig, and Royal Court Composer to August III.Bach's health and vision declined in 1749, and he died on 28 July 1750. Modern historians believe that his death was caused by a combination of stroke and pneumonia.
Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the main composers of the Baroque period, and as one of the greatest composers of all time.
Some Interesting Facts About Bach:
Bach fathered 20 children: only nine of them survived him.
Sons of Bach: Several Bach sons became professional musicians and composers. The most famous were Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach and Johann Christian Bach.
Orphan: Bach was orphaned at age 10 and was raised by an uncle.
Germany only: Although he traveled frequently, Bach never ventured beyond a 150-mile radius of his birthplace, and never left Germany.
Technical expert: Bach was often invited to inspect the mechanics of church organs.
Duel: In his early 20s, Bach pulled a sword on a bassoonist who had accused him of slander.
Jail: Bach spent about a month in jail after showing disrespect to the Duke of Weimar by illegally seeking employment elsewhere.
Third choice: Bach was hired at Leipzig only after Georg Friedrich Telemann and another (now practically forgotten) composer refused the post.
Old-fashioned: By the time of his death, Bach’s fugues and contrapuntal style were out-of-date with the newer, lighter style; his sons referred to him as “old powdered wig.”
In his own words: “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging.”