Johann Sebastian Bach bigraphy, stories - A German composer and organist

Johann Sebastian Bach : biography

On the 21st of March in 1765 Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Thuringia. His father Johann Ambrosius was a musician in a city choir and he taught little Johann to play the violin, and the boy’s uncle cultivated passion to the organ. Johann had a good voice from the childhood, he had soprano and he was accepted in a church choir without any problems. At the age of eight the boy started to study in a church school and showed big proficiency.

When Bach was nine his mother died and in a year his father followed her. The elder brother who was an organist in Ohrdruf took the boy. Bach got the opportunity to go to school again and study music with his brother. At the age of fifteen Bach got a recommendation from his school teacher to study in a new Luneburg school (Nothern Germany) at the Saint Michael church. The way to the desired education wasn’t easy – Bach had to walk almost three thousand kilometers to reach the school. But when he began to study he got full board and lodging and even had a little grant. Historians believe that studying and living in this school was very important for formation of personality and musical education of Johann Sebastian Bach. It was the school where he familiarize himself with choir literature and got under influence of Georg Bohm who was a famous organist. Bach even managed to go to Hamburg to listen to Johann Adam Reincken’s playing – he was one of the best representatives of the Northern Germany organ school.

At the age of seventeen Bach returned to Thuringia. Somewhile he served at a Weimar court as a violinist and an errand boy. Some time later he got a position in the Arnstadt New church where he played organ during mass. In Arnstadt Bach’s family was famous but the young performer played the organ so brilliantly when he went to work for the church, that the dedicated salary considerably suppressed the usual payment of organist’s playing. In Arnstadt Bach married his cousin Maria Barbara.

In 1705 during one of his vacations Bach was so carried away by organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude’s playing the organ in Lubeck that instead of prescripted four weeks stayed there for four months. The higher-ups were displeased but Bach himself was displeased too with relationships in the church and Arnstadt church choir’s weakness. All these facts led to searching a new work. In 1707 Bach got a proposal to become an organist at the Saint Blaise church in Muhlhausen (Thuringia). Bach quickly became famous as an indispensable organs’ reconstruction, tuning and repairs specialist, he was also known as a cantata’s composer. One of his cantatas was published at the expense of the city budget.

In a year of his service Bach got an invitation from the duke of Weimar and left Muhlhausen. Firstly he worked as an organist in Weimar and in 1714 he became a bandmaster. Bach arranged compositions of an Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi to play them with keyboard instruments for the duke. Probably work with compositions of Italian masters influenced on the composer’s artistic development a lot, helped to perfect harmony of his music and study the art of expressive melodies.

It is considered that in Weimar Bach developed as a master of organ music and a composer. His frequent trips around Germany and performance of his compositions brought him glory and fame which spread practically over the whole Germany. A competition of the organ playing mastery which was organized in Dresden with a French organist Louis Marchand especially raised Bach’s reputation. Witnesses told that after listening to Bach’s playing Marchand didn’t dare to compete, and public waited him in vain – he left the city ipso facto admitted incontestable superiority of his rival.

In 1717 the duke of Anhalt-Kothen invited Bach to become his brandmaster on more beneficial and honourable terms than on his previous job. But the duke of Weimar didn’t want to let the famous organist go and even imposed home arrest on him. But under constraint of the representatives of the German best houses he was forced to set Bach free from Weimar.

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