About Bach - the Summit of Baroque

Current or Historical: 

 ! The Bach pages are compiled based on freely available Internet resources. Special thanks to English Wikipaedia, www.naxos.com, and J.S. Bach Home Page created by Jan Hanford(US) and Jan Koster(Netherlands).

The Bach family had produced musicians for over 300 years. Traditional families of musicians were often organized into guildes and made their living as town musicians. Bach's father was a string player, town piper and court trumpeter. Johann Sebastian Bach was born in in Eisenach, Thuringia, in 1685.

Bach was 10 years old when his both parents died. He moved to live with his older brother, who was an organist in the town of Ohrdurf. Already a well prepared musician, Bach continued his studies in Ohrdurf. He attended The Lyceum, learned Latin, sang in a choir among other things.

Bach spent 1700-1702 in Luneburg.He was a singer in the choir St. Michael's church and school to earn his living. The school had a very rich musical library. Historians believe that here Bach's immense knowledge of music had its beginnings. He also became know as an organ virtuoso. His desire to learn and perfect his skill is illustrated by the following fact. In 1701 Bach walked 48 kilometers to Hamburg to learn from famous organists performing there.

In 1702 Bach was hired by Duke of Saxony-Weimar as a servant and violinist at Duke's chapel. Not much is known about this time.

A breakthrough happened in 1703 when J.S. Bach was appointed organist of the Neue Kirche (New Church) in the city of Arnstadt. He was paid double the amount the former organist was paid(who was Bach's cousin, by the way). Bach behaved very independently. He was still young and probably had some disregard to the authorities. He concentrated on his organ playing and neglected other musical duties at the church. In 1705 he left the church for almost three months, when he decided to walk 200 miles to the town of Lubeck to hear and learn the music of Dietrich Buxtehude.

In 1707 Bach had to leave Arnstadt. He gave a test performance and was chosen as organist of the town of Muhlhausen. Here he developed a great interest in vocal music. He composed brilliant cantata's. One was even printed - an amazing accomplishment for a 22-year old musician. Bach's financial situation improved. He married Maria Barbara Bach. After the great fire in Muhlhasen one quarter of the town including the church was destroyed. Already a well know musician, Bach had to move on.

 

(You will read more about Bach's life and about his compositions in the subsequent pages about Bach)

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