Johann Sebastian Bach
Born: March 21, 1685
Died: July 28, 1750
Birthplace: Eisanach, Germany
Age at Death: 65
Born at Eisenach, in Thuringia, he came of a distinguished
musical family. At 15 he became a chorister at Luneburg and at 19
organist at Arnstadt. Subsequent appointments included positions
at the courts of Weimar and Anhalt-Kother, and finally in 1723,
that of musical director at St Thomas's choir school in Leipzig,
where, apart from his brief visit to the court of Frederick the
Great of Prussia in 1747, he remained there until his death.
Bach married twice and had 21 children, ten of whom died in
infancy. His second wife, Anna Magdalena Wulkens, was a soprano
singer; she also acted as his amanuensis, when in later years his
Bach was a master of contrapuntal technique, and his music marks
the culmination of the Baroque polyphonic style.
Sacred music includes over 200 church cantatas, the Easter and
Christmas oratorios, the two great Passions of St Mathew and St
John, and the Mass in B minor.
Orchestral music includes his six Brandenburg Concertos, other
concertos for clavier and for violin, and four orchestral suites.
Bach's keyboard music for clavier and for organ is of equal
importance and includes the collection of 48 preludes and fugures
known as THE WELL-TEMPERED CLAVIER, the GOLDBERG VARIATIONS, and
the FRENCH and ENGLISH SUITES.
Of his organ music, the most imporant examples are the choral
preludes. He also wrote chamber music and songs. Two important
works written in the later years illustrate the principles and
potential of his polyphic art - THE MUSICAL OFFERING and THE ART