Johann Sebastian Bach: the Isaac Newton of music

For many people, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was the greatest composer of all time. The St. Matthew Passion, the Brandenburg Concertos and The Well-Tempered Clavier: these and many other Bach works still provide musicians and composers with inspiration, even today.

Johann Sebastian Bach was born into a musical family. Although they were mainly still bakers (hence the name Bach), even the 16th century Bachs were passionate music makers. In Eisenach where Bach was born, the great composer's life and legacy is chronicled at the Bach House, which opened as a museum in 1907.

After engagements in Arnstadt, Mühlhausen and Weimar, Bach worked as kapellmeister at the royal court of Köthen from 1717 to 1723. Bach's first wife Maria Barbara died during this period and he married his second wife Anna Magdalena; both were excellent singers. It was also at Köthen that Bach composed some of his most famous instrumental works: the six Brandenburg Concertos and the first part of The Well-Tempered Clavier.

In 1723 Bach was appointed cantor of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig and he remained responsible for the city's church music until his death. In Leipzig he wrote his great oratorios and masses and most of his cantatas. There are not only two Bach memorials in Leipzig (both near St. Thomas Church) but also the annual Bach Festival, the Bach Archive and since 2010 a large Bach museum.

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