Johann Sebastian BachJohann Sebastian Bach was born in May 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germanyto a family of musicians. His parents were Johann Ambrosius, courttrumpeter and town musician in Eisenach and mother Maria Elisabetha.From an early age Bach was taught by his father to play the harpsichordand violin. His four other brothers were also great musicians in their ownright.An excellent father and devoted husband, Bach married Maria Barbarain 1707 and together they had seven children. After her unexpecteddeath Bach decided to marry again, this time to Anna Magdalena, withwhom he had thirteen more children. His surviving sons becamesuccessful composers, namely, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach and JohannSebastian.Bach held many positions over the course of his life as musical directorand chief composer for several different churches. His final and mostimportant position was cantor (choir leader) of St. Thomas’ Church inLeipzig. His wide musical tastes and experiences gave him an artisticbackground that later influenced his compositions.A devout German Lutheran, his focus was on bringing glory to Godthrough his Christian and secular music, not to himself. This faithgreatly influenced his work, as the vast majority of his music was writtenfor the church.
He died July 28, 1750 at the age of 65 in Leipzig, after suffering from a stroke and severe fever. His body was buried in St. John’s cemetery in Leipzig. He left behind a legacy in which he “summarized his art, his lifes work in which he had, by general recognition, brought baroque musical forms to the peak of their development.” Contributions& Compositions Father of the baroque musical era Nearly all music today is traceable back to Bach’s melodic and rhythmic ideas. - Compositional, complex, mathematical style. - Made frequent use of counterpoint and religious and numerological symbols in his compositions. Wrote an estimated 280 sacred cantatas and 30 secular cantatas. Composed 7 motets, four of which were for double chorus (A musical composition for a divided choir) Most Famous Works The Mass in B Minor The Canonic Variations The Goldberg Variations The Musical Offering The Art of Fugue
Baroque“Baroque music expresses order, the fundamental order of the universe. Yet itis always lively and tuneful. Music reflects the mood of the times, then as now as always.” – Michael Sartorius The baroque period is where the essential language of music was defined – many later composers would return to Bach’s music to study, play, and compose their own fugue works or “adapt” the works of previous baroque composers. The complexity of baroque music glorified the heavens as well as the composers who studied and perfected its art. Instruments as well as music were developed in the baroque era; from organs, harpsichords, keyboards, violins and other stringed instruments, and the developments of the first fortepianos. Bach’s musical direction was influenced by the several courts he worked for. He combined the different forms and styles of baroque and perfected them, bringing the baroque style(s) to their greatest heights of mastery. Styles Baroque: “Of or relating to a dramatic style of art and music that was common in the 17th and early 18th centuries, and featured many decorative parts and details.” Canon: “A piece of music in which the same melody is started at different times by each of the different groups of voices or instruments.”
Fugue: “A piece of music in which tunes are repeated in complex patterns. Counterpoint: “A combination of two or more melodies that are played together.”