"He who knows a fugue by Bach knows really only one." Kinnberger, one of Bach's pupils once said these words attesting to his virtuosity. Bach has been called "the Great Master of the Fugue."
Bach came from a family of musicians who often occupied important musical positions in Eisenach, Germany. When Bach was only 10 years old he went to live with his brother Christoph upon the death of his parents. Chritoph taught Johann to play the harpsichord, the organ, and the violin. At 18, Bach accepted his first musical position as a court violinist. He soon exchanged this for a position as a church organist. During this period Bach wrote many cantatas for the church, as well as, suites for the harpsichord, and fugues for the piano.
In 1717, Bach became the court conductor to the Prince of Anhalt at Cothen. Here, Bach composed much of his orchestral music including the Brandenburg Concertos. In 1723 Bach assumed the position of music director of Thomaschule in Leipzig. It was here that Bach wrote his famous "Christmas Oratorio."
By 1949, Bach was totally blind. He died the following year at
Leipzig on July 28, 1750. Much of Bach's music was not published
or performed during his lifetime. The composers Mendelssohn and
Schumann helped to make Bach's music well-known almost 100 years
after his death. In 1977, 3 pieces by Bach along with special
record-playing equipment were launched into the solar system on
the 2 Voyager spacecraft.
Bye, L. Dean. Student's Guide to the Great Composers. Pacific,
Montana: Mel Bay Publications, Inc. 1988.
Wechsberg, Joseph. The Pantheon Story of Music for Young People.
New York: Random House, Inc., 1968.