Compare and Constrast Essay on Bach

This essay has a total of 816 words and 4 pages.


The Baroque Age
Johann Sebastian Bach
Born: Eisenach, March 21, 1685
Died: Leipzig, July 28, 1750
Regarded as perhaps the greatest composer of all time, Bach was known during his lifetime
primarily as an outstanding organ player and technician. The youngest of eight children
born to musical parents, Johann Sebastian was destined to become a musician. While still
young, he had mastered the organ and violin, and was also an excellent singer. At the age
of ten, both of his parents died within a year of each other. Young Sebastian was
fortunate to be taken in by an older brother, Johann Christoph, who most likely continued
his musical training. At the age of fifteen, Bach secured his first position in the choir
of St. Michael's School in Lüneburg. He travelled little, never leaving Germany once in
his life, but held various postitions during his career in churches and in the service of
the courts throughout the country. In 1703 he went to Arnstadt to take the position of
organist at the St. Boniface Church. It was during his tenure there that Bach took a
month's leave of absence to make the journey to Lübeck (some 200 miles away, a journey he
made on foot) to hear the great organist Dietrich Buxtehude. One month turned into five,
and Bach was obliged to find a new position at Mülhausen in 1706. In that year he also
married his cousin, Maria Barbara. Bach remained at Mülhausen for only a year before
taking up a post as organist and concertmaster at the court of the Duke of Weimar.

In 1717, Bach moved on to another post, this time as Kapellmeister at the court of Prince
Leopold in Cöthen. During the years Bach was in the service of the courts, he was
obliged to compose a great deal of instrumental music: hundreds of pieces for solo
keyboard, orchestral dance suites, trio sonatas for various instruments, and concertos for
various instruments and orchestra. Of these, the most famous are the six concerti grossi
composed for the Duke of Brandenburg in 1721, and the Brandenburg Concerto no. 3
exemplifies the style of the concerto grosso in which a small group of instruments (in
this case a small ensemble of strings) is set in concert with an orchestra of strings and
continuo. Of Bach's music for solo instruments, the six Suites for violoncello and the
Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are among the greatest for those instruments. The
Violin Partita no. 3 contains an example of a popular dance form, the gavotte.

Maria Barbara died suddenly in 1720, having borne the composer seven children. Within a
year Bach remarried. The daughter of the town trumpeter, Anna Magdalena Bach would prove
to be an exceptional companion and helpmate to the composer. In addition, the couple sired
thirteen children. (Of Bach's twenty offspring, ten died in infancy. Four became
well-known composers, including Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian.) Soon after his
second marriage, Bach began looking for another position, and eventually took one in
Leipzig, where he became organist and cantor (teacher) at St. Thomas' Church. He remained
in Leipzig for the rest of his life.

A devout Lutheran, Bach composed a great many sacred works as his duties required when in
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