Johan Sebastian Bach Biography

On March 21, 1685, Johan Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany. His parents’ names were Johan Ambrosias Bach and Elizabeth Lammerhirt Bach. His Family earned its living as musicians. His mom died when Bach was 9 then his dad died the next year so he moved to live with his oldest brother in Ohrdruf. In Ohrdruf Bach Learned Latin and sung as a soprano in the school choir. His brother didn’t have enough money so Bach moved to Luneburg in March of 1700. Bach could go to school for free because he sang in the choir. (Geringer 433, www. et. rug. nl ) Bach left Luneburg in March of 1702 when he was 18, to go to Arnstadt to get his first real job.

His job was to be the organist of the Neue Kirche Church. Bach got a four-week vacation from playing at the church to go to Lubeck and listen to the music of Dietrich Buxtehude. He walked 200 miles to get there, and then instead of staying for the four weeks the church had planed, he stayed for four months. (www. let. rug. nl) Bach got a different job as an organist in Muhlhausen at St. Blasius Church in 1707.

That year his uncle died and Bach inherited some money. That gave Bach enough money to marry Maria Barbara, his second cousin. They got married in April of 1707. One year later in 1708 Wilhelm Ernst hired Bach as an organist and as a member of the orchestra so Bach and Maria moved to Weimar. Bach’s salary was double what he got paid at his last job. (Geringer 433, Lloyd 30 www. let. rug. nl) Bach and Maria were financially stable enough to start a family. While they lived in Weimar they had three kids that lived and a set of twins that died.

Bach got another job in Weimar where he had to write one cantata a month. Bach’s growing fame also gave him the chance to take up some students. One was J. M. Schubart. Bach got a job offer from Ernst August (Wilhelm Ernst’s enemy) to play at a wedding. Bach was going to accept but Wilhelm had him arrested for a month. Bach left Weimar as soon as he got out of prison. (Geringer 433, Lloyd 31, www. let. rug. nl) Bach got yet another job at Kothen. The job was conducting Prince Leopold’s private orchestra. Prince Leopold played the violin, the Viola da gamba, and the clavier.

Bach wasn’t forced to write any music while he worked for Prince Leopold but he still wrote a lot. Maria Barbara died while Bach was away on a trip with Prince Leopold. At the time, he had four kids, the oldest one was 12. Bach couldn’t raise four kids by himself so he got married to Anna Magdalena to help him. The same year that Bach got married Prince Leopold got married too and became totally uninterested in music. (Lloyd 32, www. let. rug. nl) Bach’s family got extremely bored in Kothen and wanted to live anywhere besides there so they moved to Leipzig.

Bach’s job in Leipzig was teaching Latin and directing the school’s choir. He really hated teaching Latin so he paid someone to fill in for him. Bach’s total salary was one fourth oh what he got paid in Kothen. Bach got bored of what he was doing for a job so he started directing a Collegium Musicium. A Collegium Musicium is an orchestra of students and professional musicians mixed together. The orchestra had concerts once a week. Bach did that until the 1740s. Bach started to go blind because of cataracts.

Bach dictated parts of the Chorale Wenn Wir in Hoechsten Noten Sein to his son-in-law Altnickol before he died. He had a stroke in 1750 and died on July 28, 1750. Doctors say he died from diabetes mellitus. (Lloyd 36, www. let. rug. nl) 53 of Bach’s family members can be traced back as musicians. Bach’s mom was Elisabeth Lammerhirt. His dad, Johan Ambrosias, was the first one to teach him music. He taught him the violin. Bach’s uncle, Johan Christoph, taught him how to play the organ. After his parents both died in 1684 and 1695 he went to live with his brother.

His brother taught Bach how to play the harpsichord, the clavichord, and the organ. Bach Married Maria Barbara in 1720. Bach had three sons that excelled in the musical world. The eldest one was Wilhelm Friedmann. He was closely supervised by Bach when he was growing up. Bach taught him how to play the harpsichord. Wilhelm was also very good at law, physics and mathematics so he studied those in college. Bach’s second son who excelled in music was Carl Philipp Emanuel. He was four years younger than Wilhelm. He was also taught the harpsichord by Bach.

Bach’s third most famous son was Johann Christian. He was 20 years younger than Carl and 14 years younger than Wilhelm. His mother was Bach’s second wife, Anna Magdalena. Carl taught him how to play, not Bach. (Lloyd 36-39, Story of Music 45, Geringer 433, 438) Bach has written an immense amount of music in his life. He wrote enough music to fill 60 huge volumes. He did all of that writing while he was an organist, conductor, a musical director of church services, and a teacher. Bach has mastered a great deal of feats for one man. His life was amazing. (Milton 15)


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