Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685. He was born in the town of Eisenach (Thuringia).
Johann’s fathers name was Johann Ambrosius Bach. His mothers name was Elisabeth. Johann was their eighth child.
His two godfathers, who gave their name to the child, were Sebastian Nagel, town piper, and Johann George Koch, a ducal forrester in Eisenach. He was baptized in the Saint Georg’s church. The baptismal entry is dated March 23, 1685. Johann’s mother died in 1694 and his father died in 1695, so, as a child of only nine he had to live with his eldest brother Johann Christoph.
Christoph was the organist in Ohrdruf. Johann got his first key board lesson from Christoph. He went to the Lyceum in Ohrdruf. While he attended this school he learned Latin and sang in the choir. When his brother could no longer support him, he left for Luneburg on March 15, 1700.
His best friend from school, Georg Erdmann, went on the journey with Johann. While he and Erdmann were in Luneburg they sang in the Mettenchor (matin choir).
They were paid money for doing this and this is how he was able to attend the Saint Michel’s church. The school had an impressive musical tradition and had a famous musical library. The foundation was laid here for Bach’s musical interest and his familiarity with the 17 th century German choir tradition. Johann traveled to Arnstadt in 1703 and it is here were he got his first serious job.
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He was appointed organist of the Neue Kirche and recieved a relatively high salary. He became obsessed with the organ and neglected his practice with the boys church choir. In 1705 he took a four week leave of absence to go to Lubeck to get acquainted with the music of Dietrich Buxtehude. He was greatly influenced by the born music of Buxtehude. Instead of staying only four weeks, he returned to Arnstadt in 1706. The church was not amused.
He found a new postion in Muhlhausen and applied for his resignation in Arnstdat. His great works during this time were, Capriccio sopra la lontanaza del suo fratelli dilettissimo, Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern, and the Prelude and Fugue in G Minor. In 1707 Bach married his cousin, Maria Barbara. He became organist of the Blasius kirche in Muhlhausen. Bach remained at Muhlhausen for only a year before taking up post as organist and concertmaster at the court of the Duke of Weimar.
In 1717, Bach moved to another post as Kapellmeister at the court of Prince Leopold in Co then. He was in service to the courts, and he composed a great deal of instrumental music: hundreds of pieces for solo keyboards, orchestral dance suites, trio sonatas for various instruments, and concertos for various instruments and orchestra. His most famous concertos are the six Concerti Gross i composed for the Duke of Brandenburg in 1721. Brandenburg concerto no. 3 is the style of concerto grosso in which a small group of instruments is set in concert with an orchestra of strings and continuo. Of Bach’s music for solo instruments, the six Suites for Violoncello and Sonatas and Partita’s for solo violin are among the greatest for these instruments.
Maria died suddenly in 1720, having borne Bach seven children. within a year Bach remarried to Anne Magdalena. Bach borne thirteen hil dren with her. Soon after his marriage, Bach began looking for another position, and eventually took one in Leipzig, where he became organist and cantor at Saint Thomas church. He remained in Leipzig for the rest of his life. A devout Lutheran, Bach composed a great many sacred works as his duties required when employed by the church.
He composed well over two hundred cantatas, several motets, five masses, three oratorios, and four settings of the passion story. The Saint Matthew Passion, is one of the western music’s masterpieces. Bach also wrote a great deal of music for his favorite instrument, the organ, which is still regarded as the pinnacle of his repertoire. One such work is the tremendous, Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. In 1749 Bach’s failing eyesight was operated on by a traveling english surgeon, the catastrophic results were complete blindness. Bach still continued to compose, dictating his work to a pupil.
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He finally succumbed to a stroke on July 28, 1750. He was buried in a unmarked grave at Saint Thomas church. Bach achieved remarkable heights in the art of music. Choral polyphony and organ music, as well as instrumental music and dance forms were brought to majestic levels. He achieved a great deal in his lifetime. He was truly a virtuoso of organ technique.