Johann Sebastian Bach was born 21 March 1685 in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany to Johann Ambrosius Bach (1645-1695) and Maria Elisabeth Laummerhirt (1663-1694) and died 28 July 1750 Leipzig, Germany of Stroke. He married Maria Barbara Bach (1684-1720) . He married Anna Magdalena Wilcke (1701-1760) .

J S Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations, and for vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival he has generally been regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.[1]

The Bach family already counted several composers when Johann Sebastian was born as the last child of a city musician in Eisenach. After being orphaned at age 10, he lived for five years with his eldest brother Johann Christoph, after which he continued his musical formation in Lüneburg. From 1703 he was back in Thuringia, working as a musician for Protestant churches in Arnstadt and Mühlhausen and, for longer stretches of time, at courts in Weimar, where he expanded his organ repertory, and Köthen, where he was mostly engaged with chamber music. From 1723 he was employed as Thomaskantor (cantor at St. Thomas) in Leipzig. He composed music for the principal Lutheran churches of the city, and for its university's student ensemble Collegium Musicum. From 1726 he published some of his keyboard and organ music. In Leipzig, as had happened during some of his earlier positions, he had difficult relations with his employer, a situation that was little remedied when he was granted the title of court composer by his sovereign, Augustus, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, in 1736. In the last decades of his life he reworked and extended many of his earlier compositions. He died of complications after eye surgery in 17


Childhood (1685–1703)

Johann Ambrosius Bach, Bach's father

Page from the Neues vollständiges Eisenachisches Gesangbuch, the Lutheran hymnal that was in use in the Eisenach of Bach's youth[2][3]

Lüneburg, some two decades before Bach's stay in that town: St Michael's pictured in lower right

Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, the capital of the duchy of Saxe-Eisenach, in present-day Germany, on 21 March 1685 O.S. (31 March 1685 N.S.). He was the son of Johann Ambrosius Bach, the director of the town musicians, and Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt.[4] He was the eighth and youngest child of Johann Ambrosius,[5] who likely taught him violin and basic music theory.[6] His uncles were all professional musicians, whose posts included church organists, court chamber musicians, and composers. One uncle, Johann Christoph Bach (1645–1693), introduced him to the organ, and an older second cousin, Johann Ludwig Bach (1677–1731), was a well-known composer and violinist.[7]

Bach's mother died in 1694, and his father died eight months later.[8] The 10-year-old Bach moved in with his eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671–1721), the organist at St. Michael's Church in Ohrdruf, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.[9] There he studied, performed, and copied music, including his own brother's, despite being forbidden to do so because scores were so valuable and private, and blank ledger paper of that type was costly.[10][11] He received valuable teaching from his brother, who instructed him on the clavichord. J. C. Bach exposed him to the works of great composers of the day, including South German composers such as Johann Pachelbel (under whom Johann Christoph had studied) and Johann Jakob Froberger; North German composers;[12] Frenchmen, such as Jean-Baptiste Lully, Louis Marchand, and Marin Marais; and the Italian clavierist Girolamo Frescobaldi. Also during this time, he was taught theology, Latin, Greek, French, and Italian at the local gymnasium.[13]

By 3 April 1700, Bach and his schoolfriend Georg Erdmann—who was two years Bach's elder—were enrolled in the prestigious St. Michael's School in Lüneburg, some two weeks' travel north of Ohrdruf.[14][15] Their journey was probably undertaken mostly on foot.[13][15] His two years there were critical in exposing Bach to a wider range of European culture. In addition to singing in the choir, he played the school's three-manual organ and harpsichords.[13] He came into contact with sons of aristocrats from northern Germany who were sent to the highly selective school to prepare for careers in other disciplines.

While in Lüneburg, Bach had access to St. John's Church and possibly used the church's famous organ from 1553, since it was played by his organ teacher Georg Böhm.[16] Because of his musical talent, Bach had significant contact with Böhm while a student in Lüneburg, and he also took trips to nearby Hamburg where he observed "the great North German organist Johann Adam Reincken".[16][17] Stauffer reports the discovery in 2005 of the organ tablatures that Bach wrote, while still in his teens, of works by Reincken and Dieterich Buxtehude, showing "a disciplined, methodical, well-trained teenager deeply committed to learning his craft".[16]


Offspring of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach (1684-1720)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Catharina Dorthea Bach (1708-1774)
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784)
Christoph Bach (1713-1715)
Johann Christoph Bach (1713-1713)
Maria Sophia Bach (1713-1713)
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788)

Offspring of Johann Sebastian Bach and Anna Magdalena Wilcke (1701-1760)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Johann Gottfried Bernhard Bach (1715-1739)
Leopold Augustus Bach (1718-1719)
Gottfried Heinrich Bach (1724-1763)
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795)
Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)
Elisabeth Juliane Friederica Bach (1726-1781)
Johanna Carolina Bach (1737-1781)
Regina Susanna Bach (1742-1809)

Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
  • Wikipedia

Robin Patterson




  1. ^ Blanning, T. C. W. (2008). The Triumph of Music: The Rise of Composers, Musicians and Their Art. p. 272. ISBN 9780674031043. "And of course the greatest master of harmony and counterpoint of all time was Johann Sebastian Bach, 'the Homer of music'." 
  2. ^ Johann Günther Rörer (editor). Neues vollständiges Eisenachisches Gesangbuch: Worinnen in ziemlich bequeemer und füglicher Ordnung vermittels fünffacher Abteilung so wol die alte als neue doch mehrenteils bekante geistliche Kirchenlieder und Psalmen D. Martin Luthers und anderer Gottseeligen Männer befindlich. Script error: No such module "webarchive". Eisenach: Rörer, 1673.
  3. ^ Geck 2003, p. 5 Script error: No such module "webarchive".
  4. ^ Jones (2007), p. 3
  5. ^ "Lesson Plans". Bach to School. The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Boyd (2000), p. 6
  7. ^ Johann Sebastian Bach drafted a genealogy around 1735, titled "Origin of the musical Bach family", printed in translation in David, Mendel, and Wolff (1998), p. 283
  8. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Miles
  9. ^ Boyd (2000), pp. 7–8
  10. ^ David, Mendel & Wolff (1998), p. 299
  11. ^ Wolff (2000), p. 45
  12. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Wolff19,46
  13. ^ a b c "Johann Sebastian Bach: a detailed informative biography". The Baroque Music Site. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  14. ^ Wolff (2000), pp. 41–43
  15. ^ a b Eidam 2001, Ch. I
  16. ^ a b c Stauffer, George B. (20 February 2014). "Why Bach Moves Us". The New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  17. ^ Geiringer (1966), p. 13

Works cited



External links

Quotations from Wikiquote
Source texts from Wikisource
Images and media from Commons
  • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) at Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Bach Bibliography, by Yo Tomita of Queen's University Belfast—especially useful to scholars
  • Bach Cantatas Website, by Aryeh Oron—information on the cantatas as well as other works
  • Template:Musopen
  • Lua error in Module:Internet_Archive at line 532: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Template:BBC composer page


  • Template:Cantorion
  • Template:ChoralWiki
  • Template:IMSLP—the Bach-Gesellschaft-Ausgabe volumes split up into individual works, plus other editions


Template:Johann Sebastian Bach Template:Bach family

Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
  • Wikipedia

Robin Patterson

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Johann Sebastian Bach. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.