Baroque

Johann Sebastian Bach

b. Eisenach, March 21, 1685
d. Leipzig, July 28, 1750

Biography

Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the greatest and most influential composers to ever live. His father was his first instructor, teaching him the violin. Both his parents passed away when he was only ten, so he went to live with his brother Johann Christoph, who gave him his first keyboard lessons; it wasn't long until Bach surpassed is older brother's abilities. In 1700 he left for Lüneburg as a choirboy at St. Michael's Church. In this developmental period of his life, Bach was fortunate to be exposed to the music of other masters, including George Böhm, organist at St John's Church in Lüneburg. He also occasionally walked to Hamburg to hear J.A. Reinken play, or to Celle to hear the court music.

Bach held many positions throughout his career. He became the organist at Arnstadt in 1705. In 1707 he was appointed organist of St. Blasius Church in Mulhausen. He retained this post only one year before moving to Wiemar as the court organist to the Duke. This period was a particularly prolific one for organ composition. In 1717 Bach became the Kappellmeister and director of "Kammermusik" to Prince Leopold of Anhaldt at Cöthen. After six years there, Bach settled in Leipzig, where he remained until his death. There he served as Cantor of the Thomas School while also playing the organ and directing the Choirs for the two principal churches in town-the St. Thomas church and the St. Nicholas Church.

Bach exerted tremendous influence over musicians both in his day and afterwards. His students included Johann Friedrich Agricola, Philipp Kirnberger, Johann Christian Kittel, Johann Tobias Krebs, and Johann Ludwig Krebs, as well as his own sons Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emmanuel, and Johann Christoph Friedrich. Bach was one of the first to write specifically for the organ, not merely for "keyboard". His music is the apogee of many forms, including the Prelude and Fugue, Chorale, Organ Trio, and Partita. His works represent the synthesis of many regional styles, including North German, South German, French, and Italian.  His music marks the culmination of the Baroque Period.

Points of Interest

Selected Organ Works