With this, as with all postings on "Today in History" when you get to a word or words that have been highlighted in a color, "click on" those words and that will take you to a link... in this case it will take you to a link wherein you will here some of the sublime, wonderful music of today's subject, Johann Sebastian Bach.
"He regarded himself as a conscientious craftsman doing a job to the best of his ability for the satisfaction of his superiors, for the pleasure and edification of his fellowmen, and to the glory of God. Doubtless, he would have been astonished if he had been told that two hundred years after his death his music would be performed and studied everywhere and his name more deeply venerated by musicians than that of any other composer."
The Life of Johann Sebastian Bach
A very brief biographical sketch shows that for all of his greatness, in his own time Bach, while certainly respected, was not well known outside of his native area of Northern Germany. He was orphaned at age 10 and thereafter moved in with his brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671–1721), the organist at the Michaeliskirche in nearby Ohrdruf. It was here that the young Bach first learned the performance, composition and mechanical workings of the organ, In January 1703, Bach took a post as a court musician in the chapel of Duke Johann Ernst in Weimar, a large town in Thuringia. During his seven-month time at Weimar, his reputation as a keyboard player began to spread. In 1708, he became the court organist and concertmaster at the ducal court in Weimar. Bach's post in Weimar marked the start of a long period of composing keyboard and orchestral works. From the
Chaconne from the Partita No.2 in D minor written at this time (my friend Stacey Woolley played this at a Memorial Service for my mother, and I keenly felt the sorrow that Bach felt at this loss of a loved one). The following year, the widower met Anna Magdalena Wilcke, a young, highly gifted soprano 17 years his junior. They married on 3 December 1721. Together they had 13 more children, including Johann Christian who became along with C. P. E. Bach far better known in their own lifetimes than their father. In 1723, Bach was appointed Cantor of Thomasschule, adjacent to the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, as well as Director of Music in the principal churches in the town. This was a prestigious post in the leading mercantile city in Saxony. This was Bach's first government position in a career that had mainly involved service to the aristocracy. This final post, which he held for 27 years saw the greatest musical achievements of his career. His main instrumental, choral and chamber works were written during this period. He died in 1750. In 2008, a computerized facsimile of Bach's head using computer modelling techniques, showed the composer to have been a strong-jawed man with a slight underbite, his large head topped with short, silver hair.
The Meaning of Bach's Music
Brandenburg Concerti. For a measuring of the depth of his soul, one could hear the Concerto for Two Violins. For a true measuring of his ability as a musician, as well as his inventiveness as a composer, one could turn to his famous two-part inventions. For a measure of his meaning to generations of listeners, one could turn anywhere... to the immense popularity of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" or to the piece which I chose to be played at my Sister and Brother in Law's wedding when the mothers of the Bride and Groom were brought in: "Sheep May Safely Graze", and which remains my most touching memory of that event. Bach and his music remain timeless, ever remindful of the depth and the breadth that the human soul can reach. And his place in the pantheon of Western Music remains on a level with the very finest composers of history.
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