Organists' Influence on JS Bach

Essay by Roxy687High School, 10th gradeA, May 2004

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Johann Sebastian Bach is known as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, which stretched form 1600 to his death in 1750. In his time, however, Bach was known more for his talent at playing and knowledge of the organ rather than his musical compositions. He spent most of his life employed as an organist. People would come from far and wide to have him test their organs in the thorough and critical way he was known for.

It is no wonder that Bach, a master organist, was influenced by other organists throughout his life. He was originally initiated into organ playing at a young age by his famous uncle, Johann Christopher Bach, who was the organist at Georgenkirche in Eisenach. Bach was given leave to visit the city of Lubeck in northern Germany while working his first job at Arnstadt. During this four-month trip, he visited Jan Adams Reineck in Hamburg and George Bohm and Dietrich Buxtehude in Lubeck.

Reincken was the organist for the church of St. Catherine in Hamburg for most of his life. While Bach was a choirboy in Luneberg (just before he took his first job in Arnstadt) and later in his life when he lived in Cothen, he would walk to Hamburg to see Reincken play and to visit with him. Through Reincken, he learned about the permutation-fugue and other more scholarly aspects of composition. Reincken influenced Bach enough that adaptations of some of his work can be found in Bach's BWV 954, 965, and 966. Bach was also fortunate enough to meet George Bohm during his leave from Arnstadt. Bohm was a fellow pupil of Reincken and organist of the Johanniskirch at Luneberg. He was a friend of the Bach family and introduced Johann Sebastian to the organ...