The Hands of Music: Johann Sebastian Bach
Born in Eisenach, Germany on 21 March 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach would become one of the greatest composers of the late Baroque period and in music history.
Bach was born into a family of musicians. However, after his mother’s death in 1694 and his father’s death in 1695, he was orphaned at age 10. It was then that he lived with his brother Johann Christoph, who was 14 years older than he was, and his other brother Johann Jakob. He attended grammar school (at that time, a very prestigious educational establishment in the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha) with Johann Jakob and his cousin, Johann Ernst. Johann Sebastian sang in the school choir and under Johann Christoph’s guidance, he learned to play the organ. Unfortunately, in 1753, the house where the three Bach brothers lived burned down during a large fire.
Bach’s musical abilities when he was young remain a mystery. However, in 2006, copies of north German organ works were discovered in the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar which turned out to be the earliest surviving manuscripts written by Bach’s own hand! According to this, it was concluded that he must have possessed extraordinary musical and performance abilities when he was just thirteen years old because these copies included two of the most difficult organ compositions of his day!
Regardless of his musical abilities when he was young, there is no doubt that Bach’s compositions are one of the most well-known and widely played today.
Some of his famous works include the Cello Suites, Brandenburg Concertos, Goldberg Variations and so on. His compositions include hundreds of cantatas, fugues and concertos too. In the last decades of his life, he revised and extended many of his earlier compositions.
Unfortunately, he passed away in 1750 at age 65 due to some complications after eye surgery. Still, Bach remains one of the most creative and genius composers of his time and music history, influencing much of the music created in today’s age.