5 things to know about Johann Sebastian Bach and his music:
1. J.S. Bach (1685-1750)was a highly respected organist during his life time. However, after his death, his status as a composer only came into prominence in late 18th century and early 19th century, after his music was rediscovered and performed by German composer Felix Mendelssohn.
2. Many of his works are well-known to both musicians and non-musicians today, including Brandenburg Concertos, Mass in B minor, two books of Well-Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations, 6 Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, Concerto for two violins in D Minor, and 6 Cello Suites (just to name a few)!
3. During his lifetime, J.S. Bach’s music was not as appreciated as his contemporaries. His music was considered to be old-fashioned, while his later, more complex writing style was considered “inaccessible.”
Nevertheless, composers Wolfgang Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, having access to J.S. Bach’s manuscripts, studied them carefully. After the revival of Bach’s music, Bach was recognised as the master of contrapuntal writing (where several melodies with independent rhythm and shape, but interdependent harmony, exist at the same time).
Composers such as Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Frederic Chopin, Gustav Mahler, Paul Hindemith, Dmitri Shostakovich (and many more) acknowledged their respect of J.S. Bach and his influence on their works.
4. J.S. Bach was a very religious man, and his positions as the church organist and music director of Lutheran churches in various German cities significantly influenced his compositions. In addition, he also drew inspirations from court and dance music from France, Italy, and England.
5. J.S. Bach was born into a musical family. The Bach family produced over 50 noted musicians in the course of history! Three of J.S. Bach’s children became recognised composers: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Christian Bach, and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.
Did you know?
1. The two great giants of Baroque music, J.S. Bach and George Frederic Handel, were born in the same year (only a few weeks apart) and within 80 miles of each other. However, although being very aware of each other’s presence and activities, their paths never crossed and they did not meet.
To find out more about Johann Sebastian Bach, visit http://www.jsbach.org