April Robinson Dr. Robbins Exposition & Report Writing 620:015 21 February 2000 Bach: Life and Music He was a musical genius with thousands of musical compositions written in his lifetime. He spent his life in Germany, primarily Leipzig, and worked at a school for the city.
He is considered to be one of the greatest musical composers, and composed till the day he died. An unruly youth who greatly disliked authority, he had a strong will and mind of his own.Well liked with many friends, yet no one really knew his inner workings, or how he thought. Of the thousands of musical pieces he composed, few were published in his life. This was a man who composed in great numbers, had reasons for doing so, and lived a rather simple, middle class life.
Johann Sebastian Bach (J.S.) was born March 21st 1685, in Eisenach, Germany. His father was Johann Ambrosius, a court trumpeter for the Duke of Eisenach and the director of the musicians of the town of Eisenach.His family had been well known for many generations as a very musically talented family. He started school when he was eight and when he was nine he was sent to live with his older brother. His parents had died after losing two other children, a son and a daughter.
His brother, Johann Christoph Bach, let J.S. live with him in Ohrdruf, Germany. Under the teachings of his brother Bach quickly mastered the organ and harpsichord.During his stay with his brother, Bach attended school and was encouraged by his older brother to study composition. Soon Bach could no longer stay with his brother, for his brothers family was getting too big.
Bach traveled with a school friend, on foot, to a North-German musical center in Luneberg, Germany. At this time J.S.
was 15-years-old, and had a beautiful soprano voice which helped him get into the school.It was his violin playing, which he developed while there, that kept him at the school after he lost his soprano voice. He stayed in Luneberg until he was nearly eighteen. He was now looking for a job. He wanted the post as organist of Arnstadt where a new organ was being built. After a short period as a violinist in Weimar he was indeed offered the post in Arnstadt. However, problems arose when Bach composed a piece full of “strange” new sounds for a church service.The Council decided to be lenient with him until he refused to work with the boys choir and was found to have a complaint against him for entertaining a young woman in the organ loft of the church.
Thus was the end of his first job. He moved on to Muhlhausen and married his cousin Maria Barbara on October 17, 1707. He got a job in Muhlhausen and set to work on the poor facilities he had to work with there.
His efforts here brought about his first cantata Gott ist Mein Konig (God is My King), the only one of his cantatas to be published in his life time. This was thanks to the Councils desire for publicity and prestige.A religious controversy soon arose and the music in Muhlhausen was in a state of decay. Bach.
was off to find another job. On June 25, 1708, the Duke of Weimar offered Bach a post among the Dukes Court chamber musicians. Bach and his wife moved to the small town of Weimar. While in Weimar Bach composed music exclusively for the organ, which he played. By 1714 Bach had moved up in status and was now the leader in the orchestra, second only to the old Kapellmeister. When the old Kapellmeister died Bach had hoped to get his position, but when he was passed over for the job, he started looking elsewhere for work.Bach was introduced the Court of Anhalt-Kothen, and then offered him the post of Kapellmeister, which he accepted. When he put in his request to leave the Weimar Court the Duke of Weimar was so infuriated that he had Bach put in jail.
He stayed there only a month, but while there he composed. He prepared a cycle of organ chorale preludes for a whole year, later published as the Orgelbuchlein. His master at the Court of Anhalt-Kothen was Prince Leopold, a lover of music who had traveled all over Europe enjoying the many types of music of that time.During his time at Kothen Bach wrote most of his chamber music: violin concertos, sonata, keyboard music. Bach and the Prince shared a companionship because of the Princes talents and willingness to treat all the musicians of his Court equally. Bach began traveling with the Prince, but on one of these trips he returned to find his wife had died while he was away. Leaving Bach with four motherless children. Bach continued his work with Prince Leopold, composing and performing cantatas for the Princes birthday and the New Year.
Two cantatas or sung dramas for each event, one sacred and one secular. In December 1721, Bach remarried a soprano, Anna Magdalena. She was very kind to his children, a good housekeeper, and she took interest in his work, often helping him by neatly copying out his manuscripts. They remained married for twenty-eight happy years, and had thirteen children.
Unfortunately few of their children lived to become adults.A week after Bach was married his master, Prince Leopold also was married. This caused a lot of friction in the Court, because the Princes new wife was not as interested in music as the Prince had been. Bach decided to look elsewhere for work again. This also had to do with the concern for his sons education, there being no formal education in Kothen. Bach moved his family to Leipzig.
Bach spent a large part of his life and career in Leipzig, Germany. He was there from the age of thirty-eight in 1723, until his death in 1750, when he was 65 years old. He came to Leipzig to be the new cantor or director of church music, leaving behind a more prestigious position as kapellmeister or orchestra leader of Cothen.
The reasons for his leaving were that J.S. had been told favorably about Leipzig and there would be necessary educational facilities for his sons there.His arrival to Leipzig was a major event. There was an article published in one North German newspaper that described the event.
“Last Saturday at noon, four carts laden with goods and chattels belonging to the former Kapellmeister to the Court of K then arrived in Leipzig and at two in the afternoon, he and his family arrived in two coaches and moved into their newly decorated lodgings in the school building”. (internet) Bach did not have a good start in Leipzig. The home they lived in was not as nice as you would think it would be. They only had sixty boarders at the school, and most of those were poor and staying there on a charitable basis.
The students were supposed to make up the choirs for the churches in at least four of the surrounding cities. They also sang at funerals and in the city streets for alms. Bach did not like the structured life that he was forced to lead there, and soon friction occurred between Bach and the town co …