Bach is now considered to be one of the greatest German baroque composers. During his lifetime however he was famed as an organist rather than as a composer.
Born: 31 March 1685, in Eisenach, Germany.
Father: Johann Ambrosius Bach, organist. Died 1695 leaving Bach orphaned at 10.
Mother: Maria Elisabetha Lammerhirt Bach died in 1864 when he was 9
Siblings: Youngest of 13
Schooling: Father taught him violin and harpsichord. Uncle Johann Christoph Bach introduced him to organ playing.
On being orpaned at 10 he moved in with his eldest brother Johann Christoph Bach who taught him the organ
Partners: 1706 married second cousin Maria Barbara Bach who died in 1720.
In 1721 married soprano Anna Magdalena Wilcke.
Children: 7 with Maria Barbara of which 4 survive to adulthood
13 with Anna of which 6 survived to adulthood.
Best known: Johann Christian - also a composer.
Note: In the 17th century half of new babies died before reaching their first birthday. With the added risks of war and disease average life expectancy among the working class was only 22.
Died: 28 July 1750 in Leipzig. Probably caused by an unsuccessful operation by the British eye surgeon John Taylor (who had previously botched an eye operation on Handel!)
Buried: St.Thomas' Church in Leipzig. Germany. see findagrave
Prolific output of well over 1000 works
They are catalogued by BWV number (Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis) as follows:
1-524 · Vocal Works
525-771 · Organ Works
772-994 · Keyboard Works
995-1013 · Other Solo Instrumental Works
1014-1040 · Chamber Works for Duos and Trios
1041-1071 · Concertos and Orchestral Suites
1072-1080 · Canons and Late Contrapuntal Works
1081-1120 · Recently Discovered Works
Best known works:
- Brandenburg Concertos
- Goldberg Variations
- Toccata and Fugue in D minor
- St Matthew Passion
- The Well Tempered Clavier
Religion: Lutheran Christian
His spirituality had a great influence on his music.
Travels: He did not travel outside Germany at all. He moved to where the best work was including Amstadt, Weimar, Cöthen and Leipzig.
Work: He was considered the finest organist in Germany and worked as organist, teacher, choirmaster and director of music for various aristocratic and eclesiastical organisations. He was also a consultant for organ makers, giving advice on specifications as well as tuning and testing the organs.
Personality: A perfectionist, intolerant of incompetance,. It was said that nobody could tune a keyboard to his satisfaction, so he did it himself.
Money: Being in such demand by the church and royalty he earned a good living for himself and his huge family.
For more detailed biographical information try the links below.
The phrase "The Three B's" refers to the supposed primacy of the three composers
Also to the 'Trinity' of Bach the Father, Beethoven the Son and Brahms the Holy Ghost.
Bach in Art
A fascinating collection of images of art, portraits, caricatures, cartoons, album covers and stamps.
Prelude from Bach´s Cello Suite No. 1
played by Yo-Yo Ma
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major - 1. Allegro - 2. A dagio
Played by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Air "on the G-string" from his 3rd orchestral suite in D major.
Bourree from Lute Suite BWV 996
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - Cantata 147
On eBay you will find bargains galore but more interestingly there is a treasure chest of old items. Out of print books, old recordings no longer available, memorabilia and goods no longer sold on the High Street.To see what is currently on offer take a look at:
"I had to work hard. Anyone who works as hard will get just as far."
- "There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself."
"Without my morning coffee I'm just like a dried up piece of roast goat." JSB
He would have loved this mug! Click on it for a better look.
He loved his coffee and drank 3 or 4 cups a day mostly at Herr Zimmermann's coffee house. He even wrote 'The Coffee Cantata' which is about a father trying to get his daughter to kick the coffee habit!
- J.S.Bach Home Page - The complete Johann
Sebastian Bach. An extensive biography, tour of Bach's life in Germany,
catalog of his works, bibliography, recommended recordings. It also
has a huge list of links to other Bach related web sites.
- Dave's J.S.Bach site
- German Composers
Other profiles of German composers here at 52composers.com