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Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Born in 1685 in Eisenach, Germany, died in 1750 in Leipzig, Germany.

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on the 21st March 1685 in Eisenach to a family of musicians. After the early death of both parents Bach lived with his older brother Johann Christoph at his home in Ohrdruf.

In 1700 Bach received a scholarship in the Michaelis convent school in Luneburg. Three years later he was hired as a lackey and violinist at the court of Herzog Johann Ernst von Sachsen-Weimar but after only a few months Bach left Weimar to take over the organist's office in the new church of Arnstadt where Bach's professional duties left him enough time to follow his musical inclinations. In 1707 he had the opportunity to leave Arnstadt to become organist of the St. Blasius church in Mühlhausen. The same year he married his cousin Maria Barbara. In June 1708 Bach submitted his resignation and entered service with Herzog Wilhelm Ernst in Weimar as court organist and chamber musician. Bach’s reputation as a virtuoso on the organ spread quickly, as a result Prince Leopold appointed him bandmaster to his court in Anhalt-Köthen in 1717.

A year after the death of his first wife Bach married again: Anna Magdalene Wilcke, the daughter of a musician.

In 1723 he was finally elected Thomaskantors in Leipzig, where Bach created his “St John Passion” and “St Matthew Passion”, as well as numerous cantatas and motets.

During the last ten years of his life, Bach’s sight got worse and he became increasingly blind. His large family supported and consoled him, a number of his children were gifted musicians who gained international success.

Bach died on the 28th July 1750 after a stroke. Soon his music was forgotten and only a few composers, like Mozart or Beethoven, could estimate his work. In the first half of the 19th century Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was able to arouse interest in the work of Bach. Finally he received the recognition and appreciation, which had been due to him: a musical genius of enormous creativity.

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