Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31st, 1685. He was a harpsichordist, organist, and expert in organ building. Today, he is regarded as one of the greatest musical composers of all time.
Bach is credited with creating the Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Mass in B Minor, and many other masterpieces.
Although he was one of the greatest music composers of the 19th century, Bach died thinking his music was old fashioned and would die with him, it did not.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor are popularly played during Halloween. His music is uplifting, melodic, and has an irresistible rhythm.
Bach was a formidable intellectual and technical composer, but his music is also uplifting and spiritual, melodic, and rhythmically irresistible. The high society celebrated his music for several years.
Check out these top 10 amazing facts about John Sebastian Bach.
1. Sebastian Bach was born in a musical family
The Bach family was made of musicians. His uncles were professional musicians while his father was the director of the town’s music.
Sebastian’s brothers also took up music professionally as well. The family produced more than fifty well-known musicians for more than seven generations.
He was taught how to play the violin and harpsichord by his father. His older brother, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him the clavichord and most of the contemporary music.
Bach went to St. Michael School for two years then graduated. He left for Germany where he got different musical jobs. One such post was the director of music to Leopold, as well as at the main Lutheran churches.
2. His older brother taught him some valuable music lessons
Bach lost his mother in 1694, shortly after, he lost his father too. His older brother took care of him. While at his brother’s place, Bach learnt to play the organ at St. Michael’s church.
He studied and performed music. Sebastian also copied some o his brother’s music even after he was asked not to since they were private.
His brother Johann also taught him to play the clavichord and taught him music from other great composers such as Johann Pachelbel.
Sebastian also learnt theology, Latin, Greek, French and Italian.
3. Johann Sebastian Bach was encouraged by his teachers to find solutions to problems
Teachers at St. Michael School, where Bach went, were innovative and encouraged the students to be critical thinkers. They would give them assignments and ask them to figure out the solutions.
The school was far from where Sebastian lived, together with his friend Georg, they walked to and from school every day. During the two years that Bach was there, he was exposed to extensive European culture.
While there, he sang in the choir, played the three-manual organ and harpsichord. Most of the students that attended the school were from rich families.
Sebastian took several trips to Hamburg where he got to watch the great North German organist Johann Adam Reincken perform. Bach lived in Germany his entire life.
4. His love for music got in the way of his work in the church
Bach loved to compose music so much that it got in the way of his church duties. While working as an organist at the church, e wrote over 1,000 pieces.
He later got a job as a court composer at Cothen then later worked as the musical director at St. Thomas in Leipzig. He produced hundreds of choral and instrumental works. All his work was handwritten.
Word of his great work on the keyboard spread fast and Sebastian was invited to check a new organ at the New Church in Arnstadt. He was soon employed as the organist and got a generous salary for that.
5. Bach’s music was considered old school
While alive Bach wrote more than 1000 pieces. His work was unfortunately not well appreciated by people. Most people considered his work old-fashioned and the music was only enjoyed by music connoisseurs.
The ones that listened to it said it was because they had no other music option to listen to. Although he was the best organist and organ consultant, his strength was not in composing music.
After he died, his music was not played hence forgotten by many people except historians. Felix Mendelssohn revived Bach’s St. Matthew Passion which was picked up by other musicians.
6. Four of his children were famous musicians too
Sebastian Bach got married twice. He and his first wife, Maria Barbara had seven children. When he married Anna Magdalena, they had 13 children. In total, Bach had 20 children.
Unfortunately, only 10 of his children survived to adulthood. Six of them were boys and four were girls.
Five of his sons became famous composers and professional musicians. s
7. He was married to his cousin
It was not strange for relatives to get married in the 18th century. Bach got married to his cousin Maria Barbara, she was his first wife. Since they were related, she did not have to change her surname.
They were first cousins through their fathers. When Sebastian was 35, Maria died. He married a second wife, Anna Magdalena who helped him write most of his compositions.
8. His eyesight got worse after an eye surgery
Bach started developing cataracts in the spring of 1750 which definitely affected his eyesight. Dr John Taylor operated on his eyes; this doctor was known as the 18th-century quackery.
Unfortunately, the surgery was not successful and he had several post-operative eye infections and he became blind. Sebastian died shortly afterwards.
9. Bach was a strict music teacher
While working at the church as an organist, Bach got in trouble several times because he was not pleased with the singers in the choir. According to Bash, they were not good.
He would constantly call them weenie bassoon player. He got attacked by one of the students and had to call the authorities on him.
Bach was asked to be easy on the students and choir members. He took a break from work but extended it to four months, upsetting his employer.
Bach had gone to visit Dieterich Buxtehude, an organist and composer, in Lubeck. He took this journey on foot.
10. Bach worked for Prince Leopold
One of the most prominent people Bach worked for was Prince Leopold. The prince controlled the region of Anhalt-Kothen. Having heard of Bach’s great reputation, the prince hired Bach to be his director of music in 1717.
Prince Leopold was a great lover of music and played it too. While working here, Bach lived one of his best lives and was paid generously.
Bach and the prince had a close relationship such that he was a godfather to one of Bach’s sons.