Friday, 10 March 2017

The Music of Bach (Germany)

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer of the Baroque period and organ and piano virtuoso. He was born in 1685 in Eisenach. Later he lived in Ohrdruf, Lüneburg, Weimar, Arnstadt, Mühlhausen, again Weimar, Köthen and Leipzig. Some of his most famous compositions include The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Christmas Oratorio and The Art of Fugue. He died in 1750 in Leipzig. Today he is said to be one of the most important composers in music history, although he was not widely recognised as such until the revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century.

The music of Bach is said to be the apogee of Lutheran church music and the musical expression of the Reformation. The 28th July is his memorial day in the Lutheran Church.

Born in Eisenach in 1685, he was the offspring of a ramified musician family and the eighth child of his parents. His father was wait and aulic trumpeter. A cousin of his father was organist at the Saint George's Church, owing to whom the young Bach came in contact with church and organ music very early. Aged eight he went to the same latin school which Martin Luther had attended two hundred years ago. His mother died in 1694 and his father in 1695. Therefore Johann Sebastian Bach and one of his brothers were forced to move to Ohrdruf to live with their elder brother Johann Christoph Bach.

In 1700 Johann Sebastian Bach and his friend Georg Erdmann lost their bursaries in Ohrdruf and decided to go to Lüneburg to continue their school education. Both did not have to pay the schoolfee, but were obliged to sing in the choir of the Saint Michael's Church. Bach was the first member of his family to choose a higher education instead of an apprenticeship as musician. During his time in Lüneburg he also visited Hamburg sometimes. In spring 1702 he finished the school in Lüneburg. His further life until March 1703, when he started to work in Arnstadt, is not reconstructable.

In 1707 Johann Sebastian Bach moved to the Free Imperial City of Mühlhausen. There he became organist at the Divi Blasii Church and due to his good salary he was able to start a family. On the 17th October 1707 he married his first wife, Maria Barbara Bach. Together they had seven children. As ordered, he composed the cantata God is my King for the change of Mühlhausen's town council in February 1708. Already in July 1708 Bach and his family moved from Mühlhausen to Weimar, but he was connected to the city for many years afterwards.

In Köthen Johann Sebastian Bach lived from 1717 to 1723. There he was employed by Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen and worked as capellmeister. He also composed parts of The Well-Tempered Clavier there. In 1721 he married his second wife Anna Magdalena in Köthen, before he moved to Leipzig in 1723.

In 1723 Johann Sebastian Bach became the chanter of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. In Leipzig he composed the St Matthew Passion, the Christmas Oratorio and The Art of Fugue. On 28th July 1750 Johann Sebastian Bach also died in the city.


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