Throughout the history of music, many great composers, theorists, and instrumentalists have left indelible marks and influences that people today look back on to admire and aspire to. No exception to this idiom is Johann Sebastian Bach, whose impact on music was unforgettable to say the least. People today look back to his writings and works to both learn and admire. He truly can be considered a music history great.
Bach, who came from a family of over 53 musicians, was nothing short of a virtuosic instrumentalist as well as a masterful composer. Born in Eisenach, Germany, on March 21, 1685, he was the son of a masterful violinist, Johann Ambrosius Bach, who taught his son the basic skills for string playing. Along with this string playing, Bach began to play the organ which is the instrument he would later on be noted for in history. His instruction on the organ came from the player at Eisenach's most important church. He instructed the young boy rather rigorously until his skills surpassed anyone’s expectations for someone of such a young age.
Bach suffered early trauma when his parents died in 1695. He went to go live with his older brother, Johann Christoph, who also was a professional organist at Ohrdruf. He continued his younger brother's education on that instrument, as well as introducing him to the harpsichord. The rigorous training on these instruments combined with Bach’s masterful skill paid off for him at an early age. After several years of studying with his older brother, he received a scholarship to study in Luneberg, Germany, which is located on the northern tip of the country. As a result, he left his brother’s tutelage and went to go and study there.
The teenage years brought Bach to several parts of Germany where he mainly worked as an organist in churches, since that was the skill he had perfected the best from his young training. However, a master of several instruments while still in his teens, Johann Sebastian first found employment at the age of 18 as a violinist in a court orchestra in Weimar. Although he did not remain there terribly long, he was able to make good money playing for the king. He soon after accepted a position as a church organist in Arnstadt. It was here that Bach would soon realize his high standards and regards that he had for music. In Arnsta...
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...ations for Harpsichord,” his vast amount of toccatas, especially his “Toccata In F Major,” his collection of variations on organ preludes captured in the “Well Tempered Clavier,” his immense amount of fugues and chorales including his “Fugue in G minor,” major as well as his tremendous amount of chorales, and his Christmas and Easter oratorios, which was another schism in his music genre. Quite frankly, the list goes on and on and on. Surely, Johann Sebastian Bach never believed that his success would become so heroic and monumental. However, we today perceive him to be one of the key individuals to shape the music we listen to. It is no secret that his writings, especially chorale writings, are used to illustrate the principles of our functional system of harmony. It is in this example alone that it can be seen that Bach’s works have not only survived to the point where they are still heard and listened to, but they also still provide us with knowledge and understanding from which we can learn and discover music. It is for these reasons that the life of Johann Sebastian Bach was truly a great one and it is without any apprehension that he can be considered a musical great.
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