Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

The Baroque era’s most famous composer, J.S Bach is known for his complicated and innovative style. He used counterpoint, the playing of multiple melodies simultaneously, and fugue, the repetition of a melody with slight variations, to create richly detailed compositions.


The man

  • had 20 children in his lifetime
  • shared music with his children, some of whom became successful composers in their own right (most notably Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach as well as Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach and Johann Christian Bach)
  • he was a deeply religious man who said

    The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”

  • he was gifted with a fantastic understanding of complicated music

    It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.”

The music

  • Bach’s use of counterpoint and harmony meant that his music is revered for intellectuality, technical expertise and beauty
  • Famous works include the Brandenburg concertos, the Goldberg Variations, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Mass in B Minor, the St Matthew Passion, the St John Passion, the Magnificat, the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, more than 200 surviving cantatas, and a similar number of organ works, including the celebrated Toccata and Fugue and Passacaglia and Fugue. 
  • With the exception of opera, Bach mastered every major Baroque genre; composing sonatas, concertos, suites and cantatas, on top of his countless keyboard, organ and choral works.
  • As newer styles of music came into Germany, Bach was seen as too old fashioned. After his death, Mendelssohn’s 1829 performance of St Matthew Passion helped bring Bach’s music back to popularity.

b070e8304d9bc2bfb3d77792413f8914On the 31st of March 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach was born to a musical, German family. His father, Eisenach’s town musician, is thought to have taught a young Johann the violin. At just 10 years old Bach was an orphan and went to live with his older brother, a church organist. This led to a deeper musical education and various positions as an organist himself.

Bach found an employer with a passion for music in Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen. His last employer had Bach imprisoned for trying to resign! Once he made it to Cöthen, Bach devoted himself to instrumental music. In 1721 Bach created a series of orchestra concertos, which became known as the “Brandenburg Concertos”. Around this time he also completed the first book of “The Well-Tempered Clavier”, a collection of student pieces working on specific technical issues. Despite writing such major works, Prince Leopold’s new wife discouraged the Prince’s passion for music and Bach’s orchestra was dissolved in 1723.

Flute works

  • Partita in A minor BMV 1013
  • Many flute sonatas as well as trio sonatas involving the flute
  • Musical offering BMV 1079
  • Triple Concerto BMV 1044
  • The flute also features in a number of his sacred works including the aria “Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben” from St Matthew Passion

Published by Jessamy

Forte Flutes began as a collective of tips and resources for musicians and flautists of all abilities. I have combined it with my personal blog and music news. I am a professional flautist, piccolo player and teacher. Please enjoy the blog and feel free to drop me a message.

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