Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bach, Johann Sebastian

Johann Sebastian Bach is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. he not only completely mastered every style practiced in his own day, but he also looked toward the future. For this reason, the way in which he composed has inspired the musicians of today. Bach was more famous as an organist than a composer in his day. His major works were not often performed until many years after his death.

Bach Was born at Eisenach in central Germany on March 21, 1685. His family had been musicians for several generations, and his father's cousin, Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703) was a prominent composer. Bach's parents died before he was 10 years old, and he went to live with his oldest brother. His brother taught him to play the harpsichord and the clavichord, instruments that preceded the piano. Bach began earning his living at the age of 15. He became a singer and then a violinist in St Michael's church at Luneburg. He went on to be organist at Arnstadt and then at Muhlhausen. His first important position came in 1708, when he became court organist and chamber musician to the Duke of Weimar. There, he wrote his finest music for organ. Bach left Weimar in 1717 to take position as Kapellmeister, or music director, to prince Leopold of Anhalt Kothen. from 1723 until his death, he served as cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig. He also directed music for the churches, the university, and for the civic functions in Leipzig. During this period, he wrote his finest Choral music. Bach was Married twice. His first wife, Maria Barbara, bore him seven children. She died in 1720, and he married Anna Magdalena Wilcken, She bore him 13 children. four of his sons won fame as composers. Bach's works sum up a whole period of music. He brought such musical devices as counterpoint and fugue to their greatest heights. He wrote three great religious works, nearly 300 church cantata, and many cantatas for such occasions as birthdays and weddings. Many of Bach's keyboard music is performed on the piano.

Did you know... Bach went to live with his elder brother, Johann Christoph Bach - also a musician who had been a student of Johann Pachelbel. J. Christoph was the organist at St. Michael's Church in Ohrdruffor, Germany and gave Bach keyboard lessons. Due to Bach’s obvious talent, however, his brother became jealous and locked up all of his music. This led Bach to sneak some of Pachelbel’s original manuscripts to copy and learn from. He secretly studied by moonlight for six months which led to problems with his eyesight throughout his life and eventual blindness. At the age of 15, his elder brother died, leaving Bach to continue his musical education on his own. During his lifetime, Bach would learn to play the keyboard, the organ and the violin.

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