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The Life Of Johann Sebastian Bach And His Influence On Music

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With so many composers and musicians throughout the ages, there was bound to be some that were only decent, but others that were outstanding. Johann Sebastian Bach was the latter. He was a notable figure during the Baroque period and is now known as one of the greatest composers of all time due to his devotion and contributions to music. Throughout his life, he accomplished many amazing things and changed several aspects of music. Bach was born on March 31, 1686, in Eisenach, Germany and died on July 28, 1750. He was the youngest in a family that harbored a long line of successful musicians. With his father being a town musician, it is no surprise that he taught Bach how to play the violin. At a young age, Bach was sent to live with his oldest brother after the sudden death of his parents.

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While living with his brother, Bach was provided with further schooling and learned how to play the keyboard. Due to his performance in school and amazing voice, Bach was admitted to a school in Luneburg. As he got older, his voice broke, but he was able to stay in school due to his ability to play other instruments. Johann Sebastian Bach was married twice and had twenty children in total, but most died during their childhood. His first marriage was with his cousin, Maria Barbara Bach, with whom he had seven children. This marriage ended when Maria suddenly died while Bach was away on business with Prince Leopold. After Maria’s death, Bach married singer Anna Magdalena Wulcken a year later and had thirteen children with her. Several of Bach’s children also showed the same interest in music as him. Four of them even becoming composers and musicians, following their father’s footsteps.

After leaving school, Bach was looking for an opportunity to play the organ but had no luck at first. After a while, he heard about a new church in the town Arnstadt that was looking for an organist. Bach took the opportunity and asked for a chance to play the instrument. When the church heard him play, they hired him immediately and promised him great conditions. While working for them, Bach had the time to study composition of his own, and he started to work on his own pieces. Soon, Bach started to gain recognition from people in larger towns, and he wanted to move to be able to broaden his opportunities. Bach got his first major position at the age of twenty-three when he was given the opportunity to play for Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar. The duke was so impressed with his performance, that he offered Bach a job as the court organist and chamber musician.

In 1714, Duke Wilhelm Ernst gave him the position of Head-Concert Master, which gave Bach more privileges. He used these to his advantage and traveled to different towns. By doing this, Bach’s fame started to spread even more, and he gained a great reputation as a player and composer. In the year 1717, Bach was given the position of Capellmeister to Prince Leopold. However, as soon as the prince got married, he lost interest in music, and Bach realized he wasn’t going to achieve the greatness he desired by staying in that position. Bach’s big opportunity came when he was assigned director of music at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. There he was appointed the position of organist, but he was also required to teach. Since new music was required every week at the church, Bach started writing cantatas, such as “Christmas Oratorio,” and other interpretations of the bible, like “Passion According to St. Matthew. ” Bach worked this position for the rest of his life. Throughout his career, Bach proved that he was an exceptional musician time and time again. He wrote over one hundred fifty organ pieces and over two hundred cantatas, and with each piece of work, he proved that he was unique. With Bach being a composer from the Baroque era, most of his musical compositions included forms of that period. A lot of his works were polyphonic, since this style was very popular among composers of this era, but what made Bach different from other composers is that he took his own approach when composing. He was known for his great creativity and ability to make something great no matter the difficulty. He did what he thought would sound great even if it was not popular among the composers of his time. Bach is greatly known as the master of counterpoint, which is a Baroque technique that consists of overlapping melodies. No one has mastered this technique as well as him due to its complexity. His works were so technical and intricate that a pianist had to have had excellent technique to master his simplest works.

Musicians today still admire Bach for his ability to create such complex masterpieces. J. S. Bach’s music represents some of the best works of the Baroque period. He composed over a thousand works in many different musical forms, excluding opera. Bach made music that already existed better by including other styles from different countries. Most of his works consisted of fugues, preludes, chorales, cantatas, oratorios, and sonatas. Among his most popular works is “Das wohltemperierte Klavier,” which translates to “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” and it consists of forty-eight preludes and fugues. This piece of work was divided into two volumes and is meant to be played on any keyboard instrument. “St. Matthew Passion” is a sacred oratorio, which is a musical drama that was played for Good Friday, also composed by Bach. This piece is the longest and one of the most intricate written by Bach, and it uses chorales to set the mood. Another of Bach’s works is known as “Goldberg Variations” is one of the most famous variations. This piece was written to be played on the harpsichord, and it is believed that it was written to be played to fall asleep, although this has not been proven. “The Art of Fugue” is a collection of fourteen fugues and it is Bach’s last masterpiece. It was published in 1751, one year after his death. Many musicians are influenced by others in the same field. With Bach being a talented composer, there was bound to be other composers that looked up to him. Although Bach is recognized as one of the best composers of all time now, during his time and after his death, he wasn’t very known. During his lifetime, Bach was mostly known for playing the organ rather than being a composer.

After his death, many of his works were forgotten by most people, but only a few were able to acknowledge his talent when no one else would. In fact, many well-known composers admired him, even when Bach was not remembered by most people. (Marshall and Emery) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart being one of them. He believed Bach’s compositions were amazing and thought of them as something he could learn from. Ludwig van Beethoven also greatly worshipped Bach and even called his work “the great artistry of this father of harmony. ” Of course, Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, was also influenced by his father since Bach taught him a lot of what he knew. After his father’s death, CPE Bach used what he learned from Bach and went on to teach Joseph Haydn. Even though Bach was not very popular after his death, a few centuries later, many artists continue to admire him. Nina Simone, for instance, admired Bach so much because hea played a big role in both her personal and professional life. She loved his works so much that she even interwove some of his melodies into songs of her own. Bach’s influence on musicians back then and now is very noticeable, and it goes to prove how great of a composer he actually was. Bach’s music influenced not just composers, but also people in general. His music was a great representation of what the Baroque period was. A lot of his music was influenced by his faith and played at church for everyone to hear. With religion playing a big role in people’s lives, almost everyone was able to enjoy and appreciate Bach’s music.

Although he may have seemed harsh toward his students, he encouraged them to strive for the best and told them his true thoughts to help them as much as he could. He told stories with his music, and people admired his ability to turn something simple into a complex masterpiece. Not only did he change and added several things to music, he also opened up space for acceptance of different styles from different places. He carried with him bits and pieces of every place he visited, and introduced them to others for them to admire, changing even the way music is seen today in society. Johann Sebastian Bach continues to be appreciated even several centuries later. He was able to influence many people and become one of the most respected musicians of all time. Having proved his talent through his compositions and by possessing many great qualities, it is no wonder he continues to be a well-known name in modern day music and is even considered the greatest composer by many. With his amazing abilities and great contributions to music, it is highly unlikely that he will be forgotten by the public anytime soon.

10 December 2020

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