Johann Sebastian Bach was an outstanding German composer of the Baroque period. He was born on March 21st, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany, to a family of well known musicians. When Johann was ten he was orfened and went to live with his eldest brother. His brother was a church organist at Ohrudrut. Bach learned skills on the keyboard from his brother.
At age 15 Bach
travelled to Luneberg where a scholarship permitted him to continue his studies.
When he was there he learned much of the best music
of the time, and studied with the great organist, Georg Bohm. Bach
became a church organist at Arnstuct in 1703 and began to compose for organ,
harpsichord, and voice.
Johann married his cousin, Maria Barbara Bach, in 1707. A year later Johann and his wife moved to Weimer where Bach was in the service of the Duke for ten years. The majority of his music at this time was for organ and church choirs. The Duke put Bach in jail when he wanted to change jobs. Bach left and went to Cothen, where he was in the service of Prince Leopold of Anhalt.
In the six years that he remained there he composed many of his best known instrumental works.
1720 his wife died and a year later he married Anna Wilochen.
Bach was the father of 20 children, several of which became well known
composers. However, none of them ever became as well known as Johann himself. In 1723, Bach changed jobs for the final time. He became
the director of music at St. Thomas Church and School in Leipzig. He
remained there for 27 years.
The majority of his great religious works were composed at St. Thomas Church, such as The Magnificent,
The St. John Passion, The St. Michael Passion, and the B Minor Mass. Bach
was well known as an organist, but during his life he was never a celebrated
composer like his contemperary Handel. Bach went to Potsdam in 1747
to visit his son Carl Emanuel, a musician at the court of King Frederic
the Second. The King wanted to hear Bach play and when he did he was fascinated with Bach's ability to compose and play music. Bach later wrote a peice of music dedicated to the King.
The Art of Fugue, which remained unfinished at the time of his death, was his last great work. As he grew older his eyesight became
poor and towards the end of his life he was completely blind. On July
28, 1750, Bach died. During the half-century after his death his reputation grew slowly but steadily. It wasn't until a hundred years later that Bach
was recognized as one of the worlds greatest composers that ever lived.
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