Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach, more commonly referred to as J.S. Bach, is one of the greatest composers of all time.  I am compelled by Bach because he was not even recognized as a great composer during his time but later was recognized as a giant in classical style music.  He was considered an excellent player and teacher of music by his contemporaries, but his compositions weren't fully appreciated until the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin started using his works as inspiration.  His reputation actually declined after his death because his work was considered "old-fashioned" compared to the emerging galant style that was becoming popular in the middle of the eighteenth century.  The three prominent composers I mentioned above, along with Schumann and Mendelssohn, greatly admired his keyboard work.  Beethoven even described Bach as the "original father of harmony."  It is because Bach and his work was largely dismissed by fellow composers, and then later appreciated and made famous, that I so greatly admire him.

I found this site very interesting because it includes a detailed biography of Bach and also includes his complete works and recommended recordings.  The biography link is great because it shows a map of the places Bach lived and has tells about how each place he lived influenced his work.  It is interesting to note that Bach lived in a very small geographic region throughout his lifetime.  During his time, it was unusual for a great composer to stay in such small area, and this could have been a factor in why his music was so under-appreciated during his lifetime.

This webpage is very enjoyable because it features a video that condenses a lot of important information about Bach into 3 minutes.  The Bach historians tell how he and his music was deeply influenced by his religious Lutheran upbringing.  Bach himself wrote many hymns.

This article titled "Why Bach Moves Us" written in the New York Review of Books tells how musicians, composers, and listeners of Bach's works have had to speculate on much of Bach's inner, personal life due to the little information about his character.  He left very few written accounts of his feelings, thoughts, and his life outside of music.  Because of this we are forced to shape our perceptions of his inner life by paying close attention to his music.  The elements of his music provide us with some clues as to how Bach felt about life, but much of it is left to speculation through his compositions.