Composers – Johann Sebastian Bach
Composers – Johann Sebastian Bach (1717-1723)
Born: March 21, 1685
Died: July 28, 1750
Major Works: Brandenburg Concertos (1721); The Well Tempered Clavier (1722-1744); St. Matthew Passion (1729); Mass in B minor (1749), The Art of the Fugue (1750) and The Six Suites For Unaccompanied Cello (1717-1723).
No other Composer, before or since Johann Sebastian Bach, has succeeded to express musical genius that he so elegantly and profusely gave us to enjoy. The breadth and width of Bach’s immense musical output gave the world such a profound collection of sonic beauty unsurpassed even unto this day.
When one takes the time to listen to his Cantatas, Chorales, Inventions, Concertos or any of his many fugues, one cannot help but get the impression that there truly was a strong and vibrant connection between Bach and faith.
With the exception of the Opera, no other musical genre before or during his time was left untouched through his inspiration, mastery of music and composition, and his incredible skill at translating pure faith and emotion into his musical creations. Similar to Beethoven and his use of the sonata form, Bach mastered and used the fugue. It’s not that his fugal writing is so complex. It is more that his use of the fugue was used mainly by Bach to express beautiful and highly expressive musicality.
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach Germany, the son of Johann Ambrosius and Maria Elisabetha Lammerhirt, his mother. Sebastian was their eighth child. I found many websites with extensive Biographies about Bach, however, the official Bach website can be found here – Johann Sebastian Bach. If you have a desire to study Bach’s biography more extensively, I thoroughly recommend this site.
During Bach’s lifetime he composed more than 1,000 musical works. Within this body of music you will discover that what Bach actually did through his own musical creations was to perfect the forms used in music composition during his lifetime. His diligent and complete compositional effort exceeds those of his predecessors, including his contemporaries and brought these forms to the ultimate state of musical perfection where musicality was first and foremost. Unsurpassed in output and quality Bach remains on top as the single most influential Composer of the modern era.
It is extremely difficult to select one or two video performances of music by Bach as I have so many favorites as I am certain many of you do too. Since I favor the stringed instruments I am including below, the video of Yo-Yo Ma performing the first three parts of the Cello, Suite No. 1 in G Major BWV 1007 1. Prelude 2. Allemande 3. Courante all of which are so beautifully performed by one of today’s most incredible cellists Yo-Yo Ma.
Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major, BWV 846, from the Well-tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach. Exquisitely performed by Friedrich Gulda; recorded 1972, MPS-Tonstudio, Villingen, Germany. I hope you will take the time to listen to the entire work.
Another beautiful piece by Bach is his BWV147, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or in this video, Chorale “Jesus, bleibet meine Freude” from the Cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat and Leben” – mov. X, BWV 147 This work is well founded in his faith and belief in God.
The Cantata BWV 147 was written in Leipzig for the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was first performed on 2 July 1723. It was written for trumpet, two oboes, bassoon, two violins, viola, basso continuo, and a standard four-part choir of soprano, alto, tenor, and basso. It comprises ten movements. Please take a moment to enjoy this fantastic musical masterpiece.
How does one go about selecting a short series of videos representing fairly the work of Bach? There are many videos and there are countless articles on the Internet should you wish to research more fully the works of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The beauty and grace of your soul will definitely be enhanced equal to the effort you put into learning about and listening to his most incredible music.
Note: For more information about composers please visit our featured article – Composers – An Overview of Music History.