Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the greatest
composers in Western musical history. More than 1,000 of his
compositions survive. Some examples are the Art of Fugue,
Brandenburg Concerti, the Goldberg Variations for
Harpsichord, the Mass in B-Minor, the motets, the Easter and
Christmas oratorios, Toccata in F Major, French Suite No 5,
Fugue in G Major, Fugue in G Minor ("The Great"), St.
Matthew Passion, and Jesu Der Du Meine Seele. He came from a
family of musicians. There were over 53 musicians in his
family over a period of 300 years.
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany
on March 21, 1685. His father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was a
talented violinist, and taught his son the basic skills for
string playing; another relation, the organist at Eisenach's
most important church, instructed the young boy on the
organ. In 1695 his parents died and he was only 10 years
old. He went to go stay with his older brother, Johann
Christoph, who was a professional organist at Ohrdruf.
Johann Christoph was a professional organist, and continued
his younger brother's education on that instrument, as well
as on the harpsichord. After several years in this
arrangement, Johann Sebastian won a scholarship to study in
Luneberg, Northern Germany, and so left his brother's
A master of several instruments while still in his
teens, Johann Sebastian first found employment at the age of
18 as a "lackey and violinist" in a court orchestra in
Weimar; soon after, he took the job of organist at a church
in Arnstadt. Here, as in later posts, his perfectionist
tendencies and high expectations of other musicians - for
example, the church choir - rubbed his colleagues the wrong
way, and he was embroiled in a number of hot disputes during...