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More about Johann Sebastian Bach
A towering figure in the history of Western classical music, Johann Sebastian Bach represents for many the pinnacle of technical and creative musicianship. Distinguished during his lifetime as an organist and cantor, and revered long since as a composer, the diversity of Bach’s skill set is matched only by that of his immense body of work.
Bach was born in 1685 in the small German town of Eisenach, Thuringia, into a large family of esteemed musicians. A North-German Lutheran, religion played a central role in his life, largely because most of his years were spent working and composing for the Church. In addition to his Passions, oratorios, and hundreds of cantatas, Bach composed secular pieces just as prolifically and competently, in all manner of styles and genres, until his death in 1750. The most celebrated works of Bach’s near 1200-strong catalogue include the “Mass in B minor”, “The Well-Tempered Clavier”, and the “Brandenburg Concertos”.
Emerging in the midst of the Baroque era, Bach’s works - alongside those of his exact contemporary George Frideric Handel - ushered its various international idioms to their zenith. Elevating tonal and contrapuntal forms to ever higher levels of complexity and substance, many composers of the following generation, unable to surpass him, instead pursued simplicity and directness of expression. Bach’s achievements were increasingly championed during the 19th century, most notably by Felix Mendelssohn, whose 1829 performance of the “St Matthew Passion” first served to cement Bach’s status as a master for the ages.
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