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10 things you didn’t know about… JS Bach
- In 1717, JS Bach resigned as the Duke of Weimar’s Konzertmeister. Furious, the Duke threw him into jail for four weeks.
- In 1705, while working in Arnstadt, Bach went AWOL, walking the round trip of 250 miles to Lübeck to see and hear his organist hero, Dieterich Buxtehude.
- That wasn’t only time Bach got into trouble in Arnstadt. On suggesting that the church orchestra’s bassoonist sounded like a ‘nanny-goat’, the musician in question confronted Bach in the town square and hit him with a stick.
- Bach died in 1750 just a few months after disastrous eye surgery by John Taylor. Taylor was also responsible for Handel’s blindness in later life.
- Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues were the first time a composer had explored all 24 keys, major and minor. There are 48 because Bach did it twice, in two volumes.
- The ‘48’ were only possible thanks to a new system of tuning that allowed all the keys to sound agreeable on a keyboard.
- It’s thought that, on his death, Bach gave many of his manuscripts to his son, WF Bach, who promptly sold many of them to pay off debts.
- A recent theory has suggested that Bach’s Cello Suites were, in fact, written by his wife, Anna Magdalena.
- The famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor by JS Bach isn’t actually by JS Bach. No one knows the actual composer, but it’s thought it may have originated as a solo violin work.
- Bach clearly thought everyone else could be as fine an organist as he was. ‘All you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself’, he’s rumoured to have said.