Essay on Dmitri Shostakovich and Johann Sebastian Bach

Essay on Dmitri Shostakovich and Johann Sebastian Bach

Length: 1487 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Dmitri Shostakovich and Johann Sebastian Bach


Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was one of the greatest composers of Soviet Russia. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is regarded today as the father of Western music. They came from opposite ends of music history and lived in entirely different environments, but Shostakovich was undoubtedly influenced by Bach’s music, and their respective musical styles came from the same core tradition of Western music. But most importantly, underneath the obvious differences and the subtle similarities, these composers shared the same artistic spirit.

Before looking more closely at the composers’ works, they must be placed in their proper historical contexts. Bach was a great composer of the Enlightenment. All his life he wanted to find a court post, with its increased liberty and financial backing (he had a family of twenty), but he never progressed beyond the Baroque equivalent of a Lutheran minister of music, who was expected to provide new music each week for the Sunday service. By the end of his life, his son C.P.E. Bach was far more famous than Johann ever was.

In comparison, Shostakovich was an adolescent during the Russian Revolution of 1917, and for the rest of his life he lived in an uneasy relationship with the ideologically oppressive authorities. His life was difficult, but from his very first symphony of 1925 he was hailed as one of the greatest composers of his day. He had two public clashes with Stalin’s totalitarian regime, but survived. Today, a fierce argument rages over his actual political leanings: he never publicly showed dissatisfaction with communism, but his supposed memoirs paint a very different picture.

The world of music changed greatly between the eight...


... middle of paper ...


...stery, which the Enlightenment attempted to quantify. This is where his joy came from. Shostakovich’s horror originated in the oppression of the Communists, and to him, the ultimate meaning was in the essential qualities of humanity, which he saw threatened by Stalin.

Russians are obsessed with issues of death and eternity, the universal quandaries and paradoxes, which they call “the cursed questions.” Bach and Shostakovich were not the only composers who grappled with these issues, but they are unique in that they saw the answering of these questions to be part of their artistic task. They answered them in different ways, but their final answers are not incompatible. They answered them according to their own times and thoughts, and no matter the answer, they pursued it with integrity, honesty, and an artistic passion that few other composers have ever matched.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Johann Ambratian Bach : The Life Of Johann Sebastian Bach

- On March 21, 1685, the son of Johann Ambrosius Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach was born. He and his family lived in Eisenach, Germany for ten years (Baroquemusic). When he was a young boy, Johann Sebastian’s father taught him how to play the violin and the harpsichord. Johann Sebastian’s uncle, Johann Christoph Bach taught him how to play the organ, proving to have an aptitude for learning these instruments. At the age of eight, Johann Sebastian went to the Latin Grammar School, where he was taught how to read and write a fair amount of scriptures in Latin and German (Baroquemusic)....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach family]

Powerful Essays
1034 words (3 pages)

Biography Of Johann Sebastian Bach Essay

- Johann Sebastian Bach was born March 31, 1685. He was born into a family that came from a long line of musicians (Biography.com). His family produced fifty-three outstanding musicians for over seven generations. Many held jobs as Cantors, organists, and instrumentalists. The Bach name was known for musical talent (Sartorius and Sartorius). Johann Sebastian was the youngest child of Elisabeth Lämmerhirt and Johann Ambrosius Bach who was a string player (Emery and Marshall). His family lived in a nice home close to the center of town....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach family]

Powerful Essays
1424 words (4.1 pages)

Essay about The Life Of Johann Sebastian Bach

- The Life of Johann Sebastian Bach Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the most famous German composers of his time. All of his work was mostly during the baroque era. The baroque period was from 1600 to 1750 and it is known to be one of the most diverse musical periods as opposed to the other classical music eras. It was in this era that “included composer like Bach, Vivaldi and Handel, who pioneered new styles like the concerto and the sonata.”(Classic FM) Johann Sebastian was born in the midst of the Baroque era as he was born on March 31, 1685 in Thuringia, Germany....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Baroque music, Concerto]

Powerful Essays
1227 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about The Music Of Bach : The Life Of Johann Sebastian Bach

- In Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany on March 31, 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach was the eighth child born to Johann Ambrosius Bach and Maria Elisabeth Lammerhirt. The Bach family was comprised of seven generations of musicians along with a strong musical history on his mother's side. Moreover, Bach's father was not only a string player and the town piper but also a court trumpeter, which was a city musician of higher rank, and his uncle Johann Cristoph Bach held the position of a successful and talented organist....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach family]

Powerful Essays
1658 words (4.7 pages)

Essay on The Life And Biography Of Johann Sebastian Bach

- Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685, in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany (“...Bach,” Biography). Bach’s parents, Johann Ambrosius Bach and Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt, had eight children. He was the youngest (“Who is Johann…”). Bach was no stranger to music, many of his family members were involved with music including several uncles, brothers, and his father, who was the trumpeter for the town of Eisenach. Unfortunately, his mother died in 1694 and his father died in 1695 (“...Bach,” New World)....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach family, Fugue]

Powerful Essays
972 words (2.8 pages)

Johann Sebastian Bach Biography Essay

- Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21st, 1685. He was the son of Johann Ambrosius. Throughout Bach’s early years, his family had consisted of musicians, instrumentalists, and Cantors. Bach was born and raised in the town of Eisenach in a middle sized home above the town center. He was raised in a well off family and had attended the Latin Grammar School, Martin Luther was another student who went to the Latin Grammar School. He had attended the school since he was 8, he was also in the choir that had formed by the boys at the school....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Choir, Orchestra, Organ]

Powerful Essays
1934 words (5.5 pages)

Bach And Music : The Life Of Johann Sebastian Bach Essay

- This paper will explore the life of the great composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was considered one of the greatest composers of all time. He created amazing, famous compositions that made a big impact in today’s world. He went through rough times like many people do, the loss of his parents and finding a way back to the old routine was not an easy task. Bach came from generations of musicians and was given a religious education which is something that played a big role in his life when becoming a musician....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Fugue, Music]

Powerful Essays
1790 words (5.1 pages)

Johann Sebastian Bach Research Paper

- Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685. He grew up and became a very pivotal composer during his time, the Baroque period. He was influential during this period enough to have ended the period with the loss of his life. His great influence, however, is not a particularly large surprise due to the fact that he grew up in a family of German composers like himself. In fact, some people might say that he was one of the greatest composers who ever lived. His great-great-grandfather, a Lutheran miller named Veit Bach, was the origin of Johann Sebastian and his family’s musical interests....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach family, Baroque music]

Powerful Essays
933 words (2.7 pages)

Johann Sebastian Bach Essay

- Dangol 1 Shristi Dangol Professor Alyssa Andriotis HUM 1113 Music Appreciation- TR06F November 10, 2017 Johann Sebastian Bach and mass in D minor The baroque period is a period of artistic style. The baroque derived from the Portuguese “barroco”, or “oddly shaped pearl”. The style began in western European art music from 1600-1750. There are different characteristics of the Baroque period, and Bach is also a composer of the Baroque period....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Baroque music, Music]

Powerful Essays
943 words (2.7 pages)

Johann Sebastian Bach Essays

- Johann Sebastian Bach was born into a family of musicians. It was only natural for him to pick up an instrument and excel in it. His father taught him how to play the violin and harpsichord at a very young age. All of Bach’s uncles were professional musicians, one of them; Johann Christoph Bach introduced him to the organ. Bach hit a turning point in his life when both of his parents died at the age of ten years old. Bach’s older brother Johann Christoph Bach took him in and immediately expanded his knowledge in the world of music....   [tags: Johann Sebastian Bach Biography Classical Music]

Powerful Essays
1458 words (4.2 pages)