Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach, commonly shortened to J.S. Bach, was a composer during the period known within classical music as the Baroque period. Born on the 31st of March in 1685, J.S.Bach is today considered to be one of the greatest composers of his era, although that has not always historically been the case. Whilst Bach would go on to become a great composer in his own right, the Bach family already contained a number of great composers and perhaps contributed to the levels of skill he would eventually exhibit. J.S. Bach became an orphan at the age of 10 and moved in with his eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach, until he was able to continue his musical studies in Luneburg.

In 1703 Johann Sebastian Bach returned to Thuringia and worked as a musician for various Protestant churches in both Arnstadt and Muhlhausen as well as working for the courts in the Weimar area where he was able to expand the pieces he played for the organ, although this was mostly limited to chamber music.

In 1723 he was employed as the cantor at St. Thomas in Leipzig and composed music for the Lutheran churches around the city as well as for the Leipzig University student ensemble, the Collegium Musicum.

It wasn’t until 1726 that Bach was able to actually publish some of his organ music as he had a notoriously difficult relationship with his employer at the time, although this relationship became much easier when he was given the title of court composer by the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, which he was given in the year 1736. By this time Bach was entering the last few decades of his life, although this was unknown to him at the time. He spent his time reworking a lot of his earlier work by using his newly gained experience to, at least to his mind, improve his own pieces. Unfortunately Bach required eye surgery in 1750 but died after complications resulting from the surgery.

The majority of Bach’s compositions were in keeping with the musical style of his day, the final stages of the baroque style. When other composers of the same era as Bach wrote their concertos, such as Vivaldi or Handel, Bach kept pace and wrote concertos as well. What separated Bach from his contemporaries however was his skill in contrapuntal invention and motivic control which he combined with his talent for writing music woven together tightly. From a very early age he constantly listened to and read musical compositions from both his era and previous musical eras, practically anything that he could get his hands on, and the influences that they imbued on to Bach are noticeable in his music.