Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the most celebrated composers of the Baroque era. Born in 1685 in Germany, he was famed not only for his moving, and highly complex compositions, but also for his talents as an organist and harpsichordist. Today, he is perhaps best known to music fans like Tunde Folawiyo for works such as Mass in B Minor, the Well-Tempered Clavier and the Brandenburg Concertos.
Bach’s father was passionate about music, and it was he who provided Bach with his first lessons in this subject. Following the untimely death of his father, Bach then went with his brother to Ohrdruf, where he was taught how to play the organ. The rest of his musical education took place in Luneburg.
During his twenties, Bach moved once again, this time to Weimar, in order to accept a job as a violinist in an orchestra. Having already learned a great deal about choral music, as well as French compositional styles, he settled into his new role very easily. As time went on, he began to experiment with other methods of composing, and found himself entranced with Italian music – particularly the concertos created by Vivaldi.
At the age of 38, he was appointed as Leipzig’s Director of Music at St. Thomas’ Church and School. This was a position which he continued to hold throughout the rest of his career. Although he had been a keen composer from a very early age, it was only when he began to work in Leipzig that he had the chance to compose on a regular basis. Between 1723 and 1729, Bach created a number of celebrated works, including St Matthew and St John Passions, as well as several sacred cantatas.
Bach spent much of the following decade concentrating on his keyboard compositions, and preparing his Keyboard Practice book for publication. This was published in a series of volumes, between 1741 and 1742. In addition to these tasks, he also composed and performed many pieces specifically for the Dresden Royal Court.
The last few years of Bach’s life were marked by his deliberate avoidance of public performances. Instead of partaking in concerts, he started to dedicate his time to perfecting the baroque musical form, resulting in him producing some of his most creative and brilliant compositions, including the Goldberg Variations, the Canonic Variations, and the above-mentioned Mass in B Minor. As a lover of classical music, Tunde Folawiyo might know that although his last work, The Art of the Fugue, went unfinished due to his failing health and poor eyesight, it is still considered to be Bach’s greatest masterpiece.