Grade Received on Report : 88Johann Sebastian BachSince the dawn of music, there have been many greatcomposers throughout the world. However, no composer had agreater impact to music than Johann Sebastian Bach from theBaroque era (1600 ad. -1750 ad.). Johann Sebastian Bach was aforefather to music as the author Homer was a forefather Westernliterature. Yet, unlike Homer’s uses of words and verses in hisliterature, J.S.
Bach used notes and chords in his music which to himwas an apparatus of worship.Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685, inEisenach, Thuringina, into a family that over seven generationscreated at least 53 outstanding musicians. He first received musicaltraining from his father, Johann Ambrosius, a town musician. Strickenby his father’s death at the young age of 10, he went to reside andstudy with his older brother, Johann Christoph, an organist in Ohrdruf.In 1700, Bach began to earn his own living as a chorister at theChurch of Saint Michael in Luneburg.
Later in 1703, he became aviolinist in the chamber orchestra at the Church of Prince Ernst ofWeimar, but later moved to Arnstadt, where he became a churchorganist. In October 1705, Bach went to Lubeck to study with thedistinguished Danish-born German organist and composer DietrichBuxtehude which largely affected Bach. Bach was then criticized forthe new lavish flourishes and bizarre harmonies in his organaccompaniments to congregational singing. He was already toohighly respected, nevertheless, for either objection to result in hisdismissal. Then in 1707, he went to Mulhausen as an organist in theChurch of Saint Blasius. The next year, he went back to Weimar asan organist and violinist at the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst and abidethere for the next 9 years, becoming concertmaster of the courtorchestra in 1714.
In Weimar he composed about 30 cantatas, andalso wrote organ and harpsichord works. In 1717, Bach began a 6-year employment as chapelmaster and director of chamber music atthe court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Kothen. During this time hebasically wrote secular music for ensembles and solo instruments. Inaddition, he prepared music books with the intent of teachingkeyboard technique and musicianship. These books include the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Inventions, and the Little Organ Book.In 1723, Bach moved to Leipzig were he spent the rest of hislife. At Leipzig, he became the music director and choirmaster ofSaint Thomas’s church.
Life at Leipzig however was unsatisfactory.He continually quarreled with the town council, and neither the councilnor the critics appreciated his musical genius. They saw him more astifling elderly man who clung stubbornly to obsolete forms of music.Regardless, the 202 cantatas surviving from the 295 that he wrote inLeipzig are still played today, whereas a lot that was new and in crazeat the same time has been forgotten. Nearly all of the cantatas startwith a section for both chorus and orchestra, continue with alternatingrecitatives and arias for solo voices and accompaniment, and endwith a chorale based on a simple Lutheran hymn. Among these worksare the Ascension Cantata and the Christmas Oratorio, the followingincluding of six cantatas.
The Passion of St. John and the Passion ofSt. Matthew also were composed in Leipzig, as was the momentousMass in B Minor. Among the works written for keyboard during thisperiod are the famous Goldberg Variations, Part II of the Well-Tempered Clavier, and The Art of the Fugue, a grand exhibition of hiscontrapuntal ability in the form of 16 fugues and 4 canons, all on asingle theme. Bach’s sight began to deteriorate in the concluding yearof his life, and he died on July 28, 1750, following undergoing anfailed eye operation.
J.S. Bach’s greatest impact to music was his own music. Theimportance of Bach’s music is due in a big part to the magnitude ofhis intellect. He is the best recognized as a ultimate master ofcounterpoint. He was able to understand and use every resource ofmusical language that was available in the Baroque era as Homer didwith the Greek language of Archaic Greece. At the same time, hecould compose for voice and the different instruments so as to takeadvantage of the peculiar characteristics of the make up and tonequality in each.
Also, when a text was associated with the music, J.S.Bach could compose musical equivalents of verbal concepts, such asexpanding melody to characterize the sea, or a canon to depict theChristians following the teachings of Jesus.In addition, Bach’s capability to access and utilize the media,styles, and genre of his day let him to accomplish many astonishingtransfers of idiom. For example, he could take an Italian ensemblecomposition, such as a violin concerto, and convert it into apersuasive work for a single instrument, the harpsichord. By devisingelaborate melodic lines, he could communicate the complex textureof a multivoiced fugue on a single-melody instrument.
Theconversational rhythms and sparse on a textures of operaticrecitatives can be found in some of his works for solo keyboard.After J.S. Bach’s death he was remembered less as acomposer that an organist and harpsichord player. His numeroustours had guaranteed his reputation as the greatest organist of alltime, but his contrapuntal style of writing sounded old-fashioned to hiscontemporaries, most of whom preferred the fresh pre-classical stylesthen coming into fashion, which were more homophonic in subjectand less contrapuntal than J.S.
Bach’s music. Thus, for the next 80years his music was overlooked by the public, although a fewmusicians admired it, among them Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart andLudwig van Beethoven. A revival of interest in J.
S. Bach’s musicoccurred in the mid-19th century. The German composer FelixMendelson arranged a performance of the Passion of St. Matthew in1829, which led to a popular interest in J.S.
Bach.Technical expertise alone, of course, was not the origin of J.S.Bach’s greatness.
It is the expressiveness and emotion of his music,especially as revealed in the vocal works, that portrays his humanityand that reaches listeners everywhere.