Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

How to say the name:

‘Bach’ is said like Bark. The other names are said like ‘Yo-han Se-bas-tee-on’.

Born:

31st March 1685 in Eisenach, Germany.

Bach’s grave in Leipzig

Died:

28th July 1750 in Leipzig, Germany.

Buried:

St Thomas’ Church, Leipzig.

Type of Music:

Classical music from the baroque period.

Some famous pieces:
  • ‘Air on a G-string’ (from the Orchestral Suite No. 3).
  • ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ (from the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147).
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (for organ).
Some (very!) great pieces:
  • Brandenburg Concertos Nos 1–6. (See below for a video example.)
  • Violin Concertos.
  • Mass in B minor. (See The Great Composers page for a video.)
  • St Matthew’s Passion.
  • St John’s Passion.
  • The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2 (for keyboard).
  • The Goldberg Variations (for keyboard). (See the news page Why is Live Music so much better than a CD? for a video example.)
  • The Art of the Fugue (for keyboard, or string quartet, or orchestra… or whatever!).
  • Cello Suites. (See below for a video example.)
  • Plus many, many, more great pieces!!
Some interesting facts:
  • He was one of the greatest composers of classical music ever!
  • He was the greatest composer of Baroque music.
  • Many of his family were also very good composers, such as his uncle and several of his sons (for example, C.P.E. Bach). In fact, you could say that the Bach family is the greatest musical family the world has ever known!
  • He wrote over 1000 pieces of music!
  • Much of his music was written for the church.
  • Much of his music was written to teach people how to play an instrument, especially harpsichord or organ.
  • He was thrown into prison by his boss (the Duke in Wiemer) for accepting another job with better pay!
  • His music is so amazing that much of it can be played in many different ways and still sound right! For example, much of Bach’s music sounds right whether you play it fast or slow, or loud or quiet!
  • Much of his music has been lost :-(. But every so often, someone finds a new piece by Bach!
  • His music was mostly forgotten about soon after he died. It was Mendelssohn who brought Bach’s music to everybody’s attention. And people have liked it ever since!
  • His great Cello Suites were hardly heard until the cellist Pau Casals starting playing them about 100 years ago. Pau Casals only discovered this music by accident when he saw it in a second-hand music shop in 1890!

Here is a video of part of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.

First movement from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5

And here is a video of the beginning of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. This is one of the best pieces of music ever written for the cello!

The beginning of the Cello Suite No. 1

There are other videos of music by Bach on the following pages:

as well as the following news pages:

There is also a picture of music written by Bach in his own hand-writing on the following page:

Picture credits:
  1. Johann Sebastian Bach. This is a painting by Elias Gottlob Haussmann from 1748. The image is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
  2. Bach’s grave in Leipzig. The image may be used freely. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
Video credits:
  1. Bach – Brandenburg Concertos No.5 – i: Allegro. Bwv1050, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.
  2. Bach – Cello Suite No.1 i-Prelude. Bwv1007 Mischa Maisky.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

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