Johann Sebastian Bach


ЗображенняJohann Sebastian Bach (31 (21) March 1685, Eisenach - 28 July 1750, Leipzig), German composer, organist, harpsichordist. The philosophical depth of content and high ethical sense of Bach's works put his work among the masterpieces of world culture. Johann Bach summarized the achievements of the musical art of the transitional period from Baroque to Classicism. Bach is an unsurpassed master of polyphony. Works of the composer: "The Well-Tempered Clavier" (1722-44), Mass in B minor (ca. 1747-49), "The Passion according to John" (1724), "The Passion according to Matthew" (1727 or 1729), about 200 spiritual and secular cantatas, instrumental concertos, numerous works for organ, etc.

Johann Sebastian Bach was the sixth child in the family of violinist Johann Ambrose Bach, and his future was predetermined. All the Bachs who lived in mountainous Thuringia from the beginning of the 16th century were flutists, trumpeters, organists, violinists, and Kapellmeisters. Their musical talent was passed down from generation to generation. When Johann Sebastian turned five, his father gave him a violin. He quickly learned to play it, and music filled his entire life. The nature that surrounded his hometown of Eisenach sang with all its voices, and the little violinist tried to reproduce its sounds. His happy childhood ended early, when the future composer was 9 years old. First his mother died, and a year later his father. The boy was taken in by his older brother, who served as an organist in a neighboring town. Johann Sebastian entered a gymnasium, and his brother taught him to play the organ and keyboard. But performing wasn't enough for the boy - he was drawn to creativity. One day he managed to get out of the always locked closet a cherished music book, where his brother had written down the works of famous composers of that time. When the six-month work was nearing completion, his brother caught him doing this and took away everything that had already been done... These sleepless hours in the moonlight would later have a detrimental effect on Bach's career.

At the age of 15, Bach moved to Lüneberg, where he studied at the school of church singers from 1700 to 1703. During his studies, he visited Hamburg, Celle and Lübeck to get acquainted with the works of famous musicians of his time and new French music. Bach's first compositional experiments - works for organ and harpsichord - date back to these same years.

After graduation, Bach was busy looking for a job that would provide him with his daily bread and leave him time for creativity. From 1703 to 1708, he served in Weimar, Arnstadt, and Mühlhausen. In 1707, he married his cousin Maria Barbara Bach. His creative interests were then focused mainly on music for organ and harpsichord. The most famous work of that time is the Capriccio on the Departure of the Beloved Brother.

In 1708, having been appointed court musician to the Duke of Weimar, Bach settled in Weimar, where he spent 9 years. These years in Bach's biography were a time of intense creativity, in which the main place belonged to works for the organ, including numerous choral preludes, the organ Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and the Passacaglia in C minor. The composer wrote music for long clavier, spiritual cantatas (more than 20). Using traditional forms, Johann Bach brought them to the highest perfection.

In Weimar, Bach gave birth to his sons, the future famous composers Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emmanuel.

In 1717, Bach accepted an invitation to serve Duke Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. Life in Cologne was initially the happiest time in the composer's life: the prince, an enlightened man for his time and a good musician, appreciated Bach and did not interfere with his work, inviting him on his trips. Köthen composed three sonatas and three Partitas for solo violin, six suites for solo cello, English and French Suites for harpsichord, and six Brandenburg Concertos for orchestra. Of particular interest is the collection "The Well-Tempered Clavier" - 24 preludes and fugues written in all keys and proving in practice the advantages of the tempo system, which was hotly debated. Subsequently, Bach created the second volume of the Well-Tempered Clavier, also consisting of 24 preludes and fugues in all keys.

But the cloudless period of Bach's life was cut short in 1720: his wife died, leaving four young children.

In 1721, Bach married Anna Magdalena Wilke for the second time. In 1723, his St. John Passion was performed at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, and soon Bach was appointed cantor of the church, while also teaching at the church's school (Latin and singing).

In Leipzig (1723-50), Bach became the "musical director" of all the churches in the city, overseeing the personnel of musicians and singers, monitoring their training, assigning the pieces to be performed, and doing much more.Unable to cajole and maneuver and unable to do everything conscientiously, the composer repeatedly found himself in conflict situations that overshadowed his life and distracted him from his work. At that time, the composer had reached the peak of his skill and created magnificent examples in various genres. First of all, it was sacred music: cantatas (about two hundred have survived), Magnificat (1723), masses (including the immortal High Mass in B minor, 1733), and the Passion according to Matthew (1729), dozens of secular cantatas (including the comic "Coffee" and "Peasant"), works for organ, orchestra, and harpsichord (among the latter, the cycle "Aria with 30 Variations", the so-called "Goldberg Variations", 1742, should be highlighted). In 1747, Bach composed a cycle of plays called "Musical Offerings" dedicated to King Frederick II of Prussia. The last work was the work entitled "The Art of the Fugue" (1749-50) - 14 fugues and 4 canons on the same theme.

In the late 1740s, Bach's health deteriorated, and he was particularly concerned about the sharp loss of his eyesight. Two unsuccessful cataract operations led to complete blindness. About ten days before his death, Bach suddenly had an epiphany, but then he suffered a stroke that sent him to his grave.

The solemn funeral was attended by a huge crowd of people from different places. The composer was buried near the church of St. Thomas, where he had served for 27 years. However, later a road was built through the cemetery, and the grave was lost. It was only in 1894 that Bach's remains were accidentally found during construction work, and the reburial took place then.

The fate of his legacy was also complicated. During his lifetime, Bach was popular. However, after the composer's death, Bach's name and music began to be forgotten. A real interest in his work arose only in the 1820s, which began with the performance of the St. Matthew Passion in Berlin in 1829 (organized by F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy). In 1850, the Bach Society was founded to discover and publish all of the composer's manuscripts (46 volumes were published over half a century).

Bach is the greatest figure of world musical culture. His work represents one of the pinnacles of philosophical thought in music. Freely combining features of not only different genres but also national schools, Bach created immortal masterpieces that stand above time. Being the last (along with G. F. Handel) great composer of the Baroque era, Bach paved the way for the music of the modern age. Among those who continued Bach's quest were his sons. In total, he had 20 children, only nine of whom survived their father. Four sons became composers. In addition to those mentioned above, they were Johann Christian (1735-82) and Johann Christoph (1732-95).


Composition TitleJenre
Air on the G StringEnsemble music
Christmas OratorioCantatas & Oratorios, Symphonical music, Instrumental music
Ave Maria (Bach - Guno) ChoirEnsemble music, Solo singing
Ave Maria (Bach - Guno) clavierEnsemble music, Solo singing
Matteo Passione(Bach) №68 FinalCantatas & Oratorios, Symphonical music

← Go Back to Author List