Johann Sebastian Bach
1685 - 1750
Born in Eisenach on March 31st 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach was born into an already very respected musical family. His father, director of the town musicians, is assumed to have taught him to play violin and harpsichord whilst his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, gave him tutelage on the clavichord whilst exposing him to a wide range of contemporary music. He attended St. Michael’s School in Lüneburg for two years and once graduated took several musical posts across Germany, including Kapellmeister to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig and Royal Court Composer to August III. Whilst in these positions, he composed a substantial output, consisting of a number of concertos, his Mass in B minor, the collection of preludes and fugues known as The Well-Tempered Clavier, two Passions, other keyboard works and more than 300 cantatas, roughly a third of which have been lost. Bach’s music was respected mostly for its technical command, intellectual depth and artistic beauty. He was a very well respected organist throughout Europe during his lifetime, but it was not until long after his death that he became widely respected and revered as a composer. In fact, it was not until the early nineteenth century that his works particularly came to light. He died on July 28th 1750, after the decline of both his eyesight and overall health over the previous 12 months. Modern day experts have suggested that his death was likely to have been caused by a combination of stroke and pneumonia.