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Johann Sebastian Bach Biography

Early Life (1685 - 1703) was born March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany youngest child of 8 siblings (though only 5 survived) his family has been musicians back to 7 generations his family is Lutheran (a religion based on the faith of its believers that God has forgiven their sins) received violin lessons from his father (profession: a church organist) has beautiful voice and sang in the church choir 1694 after their parents deaths, he moved to Ohrdruf, Germany to live with his brother (an organist) received his first instruction of keyboard instruments from his brother 1700 - 1702 was awarded a scholarship for his fine voice after his voice changed, he was transferred to the orchestra and played violin and harpsichord often traveled to hear other musicians began composing chorale preludes (organ compositions that were played before hymns sung in the Lutheran worship service) graduated from St. Michaels School in 1702

Arnstadt to Weimar (1703 - 08) 1703 first job: at the court in Weimar (his role there was unclear, but appears to have included menial, non-musical duties) his reputation as a keyboard player spread he was invited to work at the New Church in Arnstadt he got into troubles: - fighting with a fellow musician - being caught entertaining a strange maiden in the balcony while he was practicing the organ 1705 obtained a months leave to visit a church in Lubeck, Germany, to hear an organist there he was so impressed and stayed there for 4 months without sending a word back to Arnstadt, which he didnt help his situation (after get into troubles) by disappearing

1707 moved to become an organist in a church in Muhlhausen married to his cousin in Arnstadt, Maria Barbara Bach - has got 7 children, only 4 survived to the adulthood Bachs musical style clashed with his pastors (his pastor liked the mass and the music to be simple) he wrote Gott ist mein Knig (God is My King) cantata no. 71 it impressed the council and the music was printed and put into the city records the conflict between Bach and the pastor made him moved

Weimar (1708 - 17) 1708 he became a court organist to Duke Wilhelm Ernst doubled his salary and allowed him to work in a stricter Lutheran environment his reputation came mainly from his organ playing, not his compositions though, he wrote many church cantatas and some of his best compositions for the organ (Toccata and Fugue in D Minor) 1716 - 1717 prince Leopold of Cthen, Germany offered him a position Bach requested his release to go to Cthen, but the duke refused Bach became so angry and placed under arrest and jailed for almost a month he began his duties after his release

Kthen (1717 - 23) his responsibility: conduct the court orchestra he produced the his greatest instrumental works in this period he wrote his major orchestral works he wrote many of his keyboard works for the instruction for his own children 1720 his wife, Maria Barbara, died 1721 he met Anna Magdalena Wulken, a soprano who performed in the court of Kthen they got married in December the 3rd they got 13 children, 6 of whom survived until the adulthood 1722 - 23 after the prince (who hired him) got married, he had less time for music, so the orchestra had less to do

besides, Bach was concerned about his childrens education, made him to look for another position in a strong Lutheran area

Liezpig (1723 - 40) his primary duties: provide choral music (designed for a choir) for 2 large churches, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas special music was required on certain days of the church year and for other occasions like funerals he taught classes in music, giving private singing lessons, and taught Latin he also composed the bulk of his choral music

Illnesses and Death (1740 - 50) 1740 he was struggling with his eyesight 1749 - 1750 he tried to fix his eyesight by having surgery, but the operation ended leaving him completely blind a day before his death, he read parts of the hymn Vor deinen Thron tret' ich allhier (Before Thy Throne I Stand) for his son-in-law to write down following a stroke and high fever, he died on July, 28, 1750 four of his sons carried on the musical tradition of the Bach family


Music and Compositions

1. Violin Concerto In a Minor, Bwv 1041: Allegro Assai 2. Christmas Oratorio, Bwv 248: Sinfonia 3. Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Bwv 147 4. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 In G Major, BWV 1048: Allegro 5. Concerto In C Minor For Violin and Oboe, Bwv 1060: Adagio 6. Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Aria 7. Suite No. 3 In D Major, Bwv 1068: Air 8. Nun Komm, Der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 9. Piano Concerto No. 5 In F Minor, Bwv 1056: Largo 10. Suite No. 2 In B Minor, Bwv 1067: Badinerie 11. Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 In F Major, BWV 1046: Adagio 12. Sonata No. 3 In C Major For Solo Violin, Bwv 1005 13. Violin Concerto No. 2 In E Major, Bwv 1042: Adagio 14. Suite No. 4 In D Major, Bwv 1069: Rejouissance 15. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047: Allegro assai 16. Double Concerto In D Minor, Bwv 1043: Largo Ma Non Tanto 17. Wachet Auf, Cantata Bwv 140, No. 1 18. Toccata and Fugue In D Minor, Bwv 565: Toccata 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Brandenburg Concertos The Well-Tempered Clavier (a collection of 48 preludes and fugues) Toccata and Fugue in D Minor Mass in B Minor the St Matthew Passion Masses and Magnificats Chorales

Source: (28 July)

His musical style is very sacred. He wrote his music for God only (in his Lutheran faith) and some of them are based on the Lutheran liturgy (following the Lutheran chorale hymn tune). Italians' dramatic openings, clear melodic contours, the sharp outlines of their bass lines, greater motoric and rhythmic conciseness, more unified motivic treatment, and more clearly articulated schemes for modulation.

Major Compositions
The largest single body of his fugal writing is Das wohltemperierte Clavier ("The well-tempered Clavier). It consists of two collections compiled in 1722 and 1744, consist of 48 fugues and 48 preludes. This is a monumental work for its masterful use of counterpoint and its exploration, for the first time, of the full range of keysand the means of expression made possible by their slight differences from each otheravailable to keyboardists when their instruments are tuned according to systems such as that of Andreas Werckmeister.