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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach is probally one of the greatest composers of his time, as well as
our time. As a boy he had a fantastic soprano singing voice and always took the lead roles in
the church and school choirs. He started composing fairly early on in his life and his first
main works, including the Preludes and Variations for the organ, were composed between the ages
of 17 and 20.
Bach loved church music and was regarded as one of the finest organists of his day.
Since he was raised up with strong ties to the church, he was always involved in church music
both as a singer and an organist. He wrote many of his marvelous series of cantatas for the
Sunday services at the Church of St Thomas in Leipzig, which were probably the best of it's kind.
Bach was always was in high demand and held a continuation of excellent jobs throughout
his lifetime which included posts at the courts of Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar and Prince
Leopold of C?then.
Life, however, was not always that great though. In the early years Bach was heavily
influenced by the composer Buxtehude (another great writer for the organ) and he left his first
job as organist at Arnstadt to go and have lessons with him. This turned into a four-month leave,
causing trouble with Bach's employers when he returned. Not only had his presence been missed
for four consecutive months, but he had come back writing in an advanced and unusual style that
wasn't exactly what was required. It was great music but it was just a little ahead of its time.
So Bach moved on to the job in Weimar, which gave him greater musical freedom. His main
duties were court organist and chamber musician to the reigning Duke Wilhelm Ernst, and he
afterwards attained the job of conductor to the court orchestra in his last three years of service.
It was at the beginning of this period of work that he wrote some of his most famous organ pieces, including the marvellous Passacaglia.
The top job at these various courts was always a conductor, and there was an opening in
1716 at Weimar. But Bach did not get offered the job, so he immediately started looking for
another position, ending up at the court of Prince Leopold of Cothen. Bach spent many years in
Cothen and created some of his finest music in this period: the Brandenburg Concertos, the violin
concertos, the suites for orchestra and much of the chamber music.
During the time that Bach was developing his talents as a composer, Germany was going
through what most of the rest of Europe was going through. It was going through the Industrial
Revolution. This probably had some effect on his works, but probably nothing really significant.
A piece that I listened to by Bach is "Concerto for Two violins and Orchestra".
The song goes in a fast, slow, fast structure. It starts off with a full orchestrar and then
you hear the two violin solos and then it switches back to the full orchrestrar and so on.
Today Bach is known all over the world as one of the greatest composers ever to have lived,
producing what has been described as 'pure' music. His skill at writing for the keyboard
instruments and for choirs also has had a significant effect on all composers who followed him,
even to today. H was admired by his generation as an outstanding harpsichordist, organist, and
expert on organ building, Bach is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all
time and is celebrated as the creator of the Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the
Mass in B Minor, and many other different masterpieces of church and instrumental music. Appearing
at a good moment in the history of music, Bach was able to bring together the principal styles,
forms, and national traditions that had developed during generations before him and better them
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