JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (31 March 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German
composer and musician of the Baroque period . He enriched established
German styles through his mastery of counterpoint , harmonic and
motivic organisation, and his adaptation of rhythms, forms, and
textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach\'s
compositions include the
While Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, he was not widely recognised as an important composer until a revival of interest in his music during the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.
* 1 Life
* 2 Musical style
* 3 Compositions
* 3.1 Passions and oratorios
* 3.2 Cantatas
* 3.2.1 Church cantatas * 3.2.2 Secular cantatas
* 3.3 A cappella music
* 3.3.1 Motets
* 3.4 Church music in Latin
* 3.4.1 Magnificat * 3.4.2 Mass in B minor
* 3.5 Keyboard music
* 3.5.1 Organ works * 3.5.2 Harpsichord and clavichord
* 3.6 Orchestral and chamber music
* 3.7 Copies, arrangements and works with an uncertain attribution
* 4 Reception
* 4.1 18th century * 4.2 19th century * 4.3 20th century * 4.4 21st century * 4.5 Burial site * 4.6 Recognition in Protestant churches
* 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 References
* 8 Bibliography
* 8.1 Biographies * 8.2 Other
* 9 External links
Places where Bach lived
Bach was born in
Johann Ambrosius Bach, Bach's father Page from the Neues
vollständiges Eisenachisches Gesangbuch, the Lutheran hymnal that was
in use in the
Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach's mother died in 1694, and his father died eight months later.
The 10-year-old Bach moved in with his eldest brother, Johann
Christoph Bach (1671–1721), the organist at St. Michael\'s Church in
Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg . There he studied, performed, and
copied music, including his own brother's, despite being forbidden to
do so because scores were so valuable and private and blank ledger
paper of that type was costly. He received valuable teaching from
his brother, who instructed him on the clavichord . J.C. Bach exposed
him to the works of great composers of the day, including South German
composers such as
By 3 April 1700, Bach and his schoolfriend Georg Erdmann–who was
two years Bach's elder–were enrolled in the prestigious St.
Michael's School in
While in Lüneburg, Bach had access to St. John\'s Church and
possibly used the church's famous organ from 1553, since it was played
by his organ teacher
Georg Böhm . Because of his musical talent,
Bach had significant contact with Böhm while a student in Lüneburg,
and also took trips to nearby Hamburg where he observed "the great
North German organist
Johann Adam Reincken
WEIMAR, ARNSTADT, AND MüHLHAUSEN (1703–08)
The Wender organ Bach played in Arnstadt Portrait of the young Bach (disputed).
In January 1703, shortly after graduating from St. Michael's and
being turned down for the post of organist at
Despite strong family connections and a musically enthusiastic employer, tension built up between Bach and the authorities after several years in the post. Bach was dissatisfied with the standard of singers in the choir. He called one of them a "Zippel Fagottist" (weenie bassoon player). Late one evening this student, named Geyersbach, went after Bach with a stick. Bach filed a complaint against Geyersbach with the authorities. These acquitted Geyersbach with a minor reprimand and ordered Bach to be more moderate regarding the musical qualities he expected from his students. Some months later Bach upset his employer by a prolonged absence from Arnstadt: having obtained a leave permission for four weeks he had been absent for around four months in 1705–06 to visit the organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude in the northern city of Lübeck . The visit to Buxtehude involved a 450-kilometre (280 mi) journey each way, reportedly on foot.
In 1706, Bach applied for a post as organist at the Blasius Church (also known as St Blasius or as Divi Blasii) in Mühlhausen . As part of his application, he had a cantata performed on Easter, 24 April 1707, likely an early version of his Christ lag in Todes Banden . A month later Bach's application was accepted and he took up the post in July. The position included a significantly higher remuneration, improved conditions, and a better choir. Four months after arriving at Mühlhausen, Bach married Maria Barbara Bach , his second cousin. Bach was able to convince the church and town government at Mühlhausen to fund an expensive renovation of the organ at the Blasius Church. In 1708 Bach wrote Gott ist mein König , a festive cantata for the inauguration of the new Council , which was published at the Council's expense.
RETURN TO WEIMAR (1708–17)
Bach's autograph of the first movement of the Sonata No. 1 in G minor for solo violin (BWV 1001) – Audio . For more details on this topic, see Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172 § Background .
Mühlhausen in 1708, returning to
Bach's time in
In Weimar, Bach continued to play and compose for the organ, and to perform concert music with the duke's ensemble. He also began to write the preludes and fugues which were later assembled into his monumental work The Well-Tempered Clavier (Das Wohltemperierte Klavier—"Klavier" meaning clavichord or harpsichord), consisting of two books, compiled in 1722 and 1744, each containing 24 preludes and fugues in every major and minor key.
In the spring of 1714, Bach was promoted to Konzertmeister, an honour
that entailed performing a church cantata monthly in the castle
church. The first three cantatas Bach composed in
In 1717, Bach eventually fell out of favour in
Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen , hired Bach to serve as his Kapellmeister (director of music) in 1717. Prince Leopold, himself a musician, appreciated Bach's talents, paid him well and gave him considerable latitude in composing and performing. The prince was Calvinist and did not use elaborate music in his worship; accordingly, most of Bach's work from this period was secular, including the orchestral suites , the cello suites , the sonatas and partitas for solo violin , and the Brandenburg Concertos. Bach also composed secular cantatas for the court such as Die Zeit, die Tag und Jahre macht, BWV 134a . A significant influence upon Bach's musical development during his years with the Prince is recorded by Stauffer as Bach's "complete embrace of dance music, perhaps the most important influence on his mature style other than his adoption of Vivaldi's music in Weimar".
Despite being born in the same year and only about 130 kilometres (81 mi) apart, Bach and Handel never met. In 1719, Bach made the 35-kilometre (22 mi) journey from Köthen to Halle with the intention of meeting Handel, however, Handel had left the town. In 1730, Bach's oldest son Wilhelm Friedemann travelled to Halle to invite Handel to visit the Bach family in Leipzig, but the visit did not come to pass.
On 7 July 1720, while Bach was away in Carlsbad with Prince Leopold, Bach's wife suddenly died. The following year, he met Anna Magdalena Wilcke , a young, highly gifted soprano sixteen years his junior, who performed at the court in Köthen; they married on 3 December 1721. Together they had thirteen more children, six of whom survived into adulthood: Gottfried Heinrich ; Elisabeth Juliane Friederica (1726–81); Johann Christoph Friedrich and Johann Christian , who both, especially Johann Christian, became significant musicians; Johanna Carolina (1737–81); and Regina Susanna (1742–1809).
In 1723, Bach was appointed Thomaskantor , Cantor of the Thomasschule at the Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church) in Leipzig, which provided music for four churches in the city, the Thomaskirche, the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church), and to a lesser extent the Neue Kirche (New Church) and the Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church). This was "the leading cantorate in Protestant Germany", located in the mercantile city in the Electorate of Saxony , which he held for twenty-seven years until his death. During that time he gained further prestige through honorary appointments at the courts of Köthen and Weissenfels, as well as that of the Elector Frederick Augustus (who was also King of Poland ) in Dresden. Bach frequently disagreed with his employer, Leipzig's city council, who he thought were "penny-pinching".
Appointment In Leipzig
It has been suggested that portions of Jesus nahm zu sich die
Zwölfe, BWV 22 (part of the content in the subsections "Audition
After having been offered the position, Bach was invited to Leipzig
Georg Philipp Telemann
Bach was required to instruct the students of the Thomasschule in singing and to provide church music for the main churches in Leipzig. Bach was required to teach Latin, but he was allowed to employ four "prefects" (deputies) to do this instead. The prefects also aided with musical instruction. A cantata was required for the church services on Sundays and additional church holidays during the liturgical year .
Bach usually led performances of his cantatas , most of which were composed within three years of his relocation to Leipzig. The first was Die Elenden sollen essen, BWV 75 , performed in the Nikolaikirche on 30 May 1723, the first Sunday after Trinity . Bach collected his cantatas in annual cycles. Five are mentioned in obituaries, three are extant. Of the more than three hundred cantatas which Bach composed in Leipzig, over one hundred have been lost to posterity. Most of these concerted works expound on the Gospel readings prescribed for every Sunday and feast day in the Lutheran year. Bach started a second annual cycle the first Sunday after Trinity of 1724 and composed only chorale cantatas , each based on a single church hymn. These include O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 20 , Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 , Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62 , and Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1 .
Bach drew the soprano and alto choristers from the School, and the tenors and basses from the School and elsewhere in Leipzig. Performing at weddings and funerals provided extra income for these groups; it was probably for this purpose, and for in-school training, that he wrote at least six motets . As part of his regular church work, he performed other composers' motets, which served as formal models for his own.
Bach's predecessor as Cantor,
Bach broadened his composing and performing beyond the liturgy by taking over, in March 1729, the directorship of the Collegium Musicum , a secular performance ensemble started by Telemann. This was one of the dozens of private societies in the major German-speaking cities that was established by musically active university students; these societies had become increasingly important in public musical life and were typically led by the most prominent professionals in a city. In the words of Christoph Wolff , assuming the directorship was a shrewd move that "consolidated Bach's firm grip on Leipzig's principal musical institutions". Year round, the Leipzig's Collegium Musicum performed regularly in venues such as the Café Zimmermann , a coffeehouse on Catherine Street off the main market square. Many of Bach's works during the 1730s and 1740s were written for and performed by the Collegium Musicum; among these were parts of his Clavier-Übung (Keyboard Practice) and many of his violin and keyboard concertos .
Middle Years Of The
In 1733, Bach composed a mass for the Dresden court (Kyrie and
Gloria) which he later incorporated in his Mass in B Minor. He
presented the manuscript to the Elector in an eventually successful
bid to persuade the prince to give him the title of Court Composer.
He later extended this work into a full mass, by adding a Credo,
Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, the music for which was partly based on his
own cantatas, partly newly composed. Bach's appointment as Court
Composer was part of his long-term struggle to achieve greater
bargaining power with the
In 1735 Bach started to prepare his first publication of organ music, which was printed as third Clavier-Übung in 1739. From around that year he started to compile and compose the set of preludes and fugues for harpsichord that would become his second book of The Well-Tempered Clavier.
Last Period (1740–1750)
From 1740 to 1748 Bach copied, transcribed, expanded and/or
programmed music in an older polyphonic style (stile antico ), by,
among others, Palestrina (
BNB I/P/2 ), Kerll (
BWV 241 ), Torri (BWV
Anh. 30 ), Bassani (
BWV 1081 ), Gasparini (Missa Canonica ) and
BWV 1082 ). Bach's own style shifted in the last decade of
his life, showing an increased integration of polyphonic structures
and canons, and other elements of the stile antico. His fourth and
Clavier-Übung volume, the
Goldberg Variations , for two-manual
harpsichord, contained nine canons and was published in 1741.
Throughout this period Bach also continued to adopt music of
contemporaries such as Handel (
BNB I/K/2 ) and Stölzel (
BWV 200 ),
and gave many of his own earlier compositions, such as the St Matthew
and St John Passions and the Great Eighteen
In 1746 Bach was preparing to enter
Lorenz Christoph Mizler
Two large-scale compositions occupied a central place in Bach's last
years. From around 1742 he wrote and reworked the various canons and
fugues of The Art of
In January 1749 Bach's daughter Elisabeth Juliane Friederica married
Johann Christoph Altnickol . Bach's health was however
declining. On 2 June,
Heinrich von Brühl wrote to one of the Leipzig
burgomasters to request that his music director, Johann Gottlob Harrer
, fill the
Thomaskantor and Director musices posts "upon the eventual
... decease of Mr. Bach". Becoming blind, Bach underwent eye surgery,
in March 1750, and again in April, from the British eye surgeon John
Taylor . Bach died on 28 July 1750, from complications connected to
the unsuccessful treatment. An inventory drawn up a few months
after Bach's death, shows that his estate included five harpsichords ,
two lute-harpsichords , three violins , three violas , two cellos , a
viola da gamba , a lute and a spinet , along with 52 "sacred books",
including works by
Martin Luther and
A handwritten note by Bach in his copy of the
Chromatic Fantasia and
Bach's guide on ornaments as contained in the Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach "Aria" of the Goldberg Variations, showing Bach's use of ornaments – Audio
Sonata No. 3 in G minor for viola da gamba and harpsichord BWV 1029 performed by John Michel 1st movement ------------------------- 2nd movement ------------------------- 3rd movement Continuo instruments moving to the front (here performed on cello and piano) -------------------------
Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052 performed by the Fulda Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Simon Schindler with Johannes Volker Schmidt (piano) 1. Allegro ------------------------- 2. Adagio ------------------------- 3. Allegro Keyboard concerto -------------------------
Chaconne, 5th movement of Partita for
The Art of
Analysis of the counterpoint of the chorale prelude Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend', BWV 632 ( Orgelbüchlein ) BWV 632 (extract)
Links: ------ /#cite_note-3 /wiki/Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates /wiki/Baroque_music /wiki/Counterpoint