Music in History

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Johann Sebastian Bach ( 1685-1750)

He was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg concertos, the Mass in B minor, The Well-Tempered Clavier, two Passions( st John Passion, st Mathew Passion), keyboard works, and more than 300 cantatas, of which nearly 100 cantatas have been lost to posterity. His music is revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty.
Bach was born in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach, into a great musical family; his father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was the director of the town musicians, and all of his uncles were professional musicians. His father probably taught him to play violin and harpsichord, and his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him the clavichord and exposed him to music.  Apparently at his own initiative, Bach attended St Michael's School in Lüneburg for two years. After graduating, he held several musical posts across Germany: he served as Kapellmeister (director of music) to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig, and Royal Court Composer to August III. Bach's health and vision declined in 1749, and he died on 28 July 1750. Modern historians believe that his death was caused by a combination of stroke and pneumonia.
Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the nineteenth century. He is now generally regarded as one of the main composers of the Baroque period, and as one of the greatest composers of all time.


After his death, Bach's reputation as a composer at first declined; his work was regarded as old-fashioned compared to the emerging galant style, a movement which can be seen as the precursor to the classical style of the late eighteenth century. Initially he was remembered more as a player and teacher.
During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Bach was recognised by several prominent composers for his keyboard work. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Robert Schumann, and Felix Mendelssohn were among his admirers; they began writing in a more contrapuntal style after being exposed to Bach's music. Beethoven described him as "Urvater der Harmonie", the "original father of harmony".
Bach's reputation among the wider public was enhanced in part by Johann Nikolaus Forkel's 1802 biography of the composer. Felix Mendelssohn significantly contributed to the revival of Bach's reputation with his 1829 Berlin performance of the St Matthew Passion.  In 1850, the Bach-Gesellschaft (Bach Society) was founded to promote the works; in 1899 the Society published a comprehensive edition of the composer's works with little editorial intervention.
During the twentieth century, the process of recognizing the musical as well as the pedagogic value of some of the works continued, perhaps most notably in the promotion of the cello suites by Pablo Casals, the first major performer to record these suites.  Another development has been the growth of the "authentic" or "period performance" movement, which attempts to present music as the composer intended it. Examples include the playing of keyboard works on harpsichord rather than modern grand piano and the use of small choirs or single voices instead of the larger forces favoured by nineteenth- and early twentieth-century performers.
Bach's music is frequently bracketed with the literature of William Shakespeare and the science of Isaac Newton. In Germany, during the twentieth century, many streets were named and statues were erected in honor of Bach. His music features three times – more than any other composer – on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of the images, common sounds, languages, and music of Earth, sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.
A large crater in the Bach quadrangle on Mercury is named in Bach's honor  as are the main-belt asteroids 1814 Bach and 1482 Sebastiana.


              J.S. Bach - Fugue in g minor, BWV 578 (Little Fugue) / Ton Koopman


                                            cello suites Yo yo Ma


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