Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685-1750

Johann Sebastian Bach

| Category: Baroque

Here is today’s presentation of Bach.

Born March 21, 1685
in Eisenach, Germany (click for map)
Bachhaus (Bach’s childhood house)

Father: Johann Ambrosius Bach, director of town musicians
Mother: Maria Elizabeth Lämmerhirt

3 siblings, all played instruments
Father taught violin

Childhood & Training

  • 40 Bachs involved in music
  • Mother died in 1694 (Bach was 9)
  • Father died 8 months later
  • Extended family stepped in
  • Johann Christoph Bach – older brother, took in J.S. Bach, taught him clavichord
  • Age 14: scholarship to sing at St. Michael’s School in Lüneberg (2 years)

Appointments

Family Life

  • Married Twice:
    • Maria Barbara Bach (1707-1720), 7 children, 4 survived to adulthood
    • Anna Magdalena Wilcke (1721-1750), 13 children, 6 survived to adulthood

Death

  • 1749: health declining, lost eyesight
  • 1750: eye surgery by surgeon John Taylor
  • July 28, 1750, “unhappy consequences of very unsuccessful eye operation”
  • Grave unmarked for 150 years

Posthumous Fame

  • 1825: Felix Mendelssohn conducted “St. Matthew Passion”, beginning the revival of Bach’s music
  • 1894: coffin found, moved to St. John’s Church; building destroyed during WW2
  • 1950: remains taken to a grave at Leipzig’s Church of St. Thomas

Bach’s Music

  • Religious:
    • 300 cantatas (200 survived)
    • St. John Passion
    • St. Matthew Passion
    • Mass in B Minor
    • Christmas Oratorio
    • Magnificat in D
  • Orchestral:
    • 6 Brandenburg Concertos
    • 2 Violin Concertos
    • Concerto for 2 Violins
    • 8 solo Harpsichord Concertos w/Orchestra
    • 2, 3 & 4 Harpsichords w/Orchestra
    • 4 Orchestral “French” Suites
  • Chamber:
    • 29 Sonatas for various solo string instruments
    • Organ Works
    • 26 Preludes
    • 150 Choral Settings
    • Clavier (harpsichord) music
    • 24 Preludes & Fugues
    • Goldberg Variations

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