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Johann Sebastian Bach

 B i o g r a p h y

The name Johann Sebastian Bach is almost synonymous in modern day with mastery of baroque music composition. He is widely (or universally) recognized as one of three giants of the artform (along with Mozart and Beethoven). Additionally, he was master of the church organ, harpsichord, and an accomplished violinist. Although quite multitalented, musical composition was the driving force of his life. Ironically, maybe tragically, he achieved virtually no success or professional recognition as a composer in his own lifetime. Of the nearly one thousand musical compositions currently listed in the Bach musical catalog (BWV) only a dozen of these were published in his lifetime. Furthermore, some of those were printed at Bach's own expense.

In 1721 he composed Six Concerts for Different Instruments. The work was sent as a sample (employment application) to Christian Ludwig, the margrave of Brandenburg. Bach received no reply back, and never got the job. The compositions fortunately were stored, finally being published in 1850, a full 100 years after Bach's death. As a stunning example of the immense futility Bach must have felt, these towering works now well known as the Brandenburg Concertos propelled Bach into baroque music immortality postmortem, and the margrave of Brandenburg into mists of history. Today there are 73 different recordings of the famous work commercially available. There is much debate over the lack of interest in his Bach's music during his life. However, the consensus is that many musicians at time time considered his music technically challenging.

J. S. Bach began his auspicious career in music at the age of fifteen as an organ mechanic and tuner, moving from town to town. He was quickly regarded as a talented technician, and all through his life continued to service his large collection of musical instruments. As noted Bach had no ability to support himself through publishing, (as opposed to his comtemporary Georg Handel, considered a superstar) Bach resorted to a variety of commercial enterprises to support his large family. Some of the minor activities involved selling music books and instruments, but by far his greatest efforts were aimed at Music on Demand.

This business involved composing sometimes vastly complicated pieces of music (for weddings, funerals etc.) on a few days notice. With the burden of 20 children to support, Bach seemed quite sufficiently motivated. Indeed, it has been estimated that an experienced music handwriter would need 40 years to copy his life's work. From a purely technical prospective, Bach is considered to be the master of the fugue. Fugues were very popular formats for Baroque music, involving a sort of dialog between instruments.

 A l b u m s

Die Brandenburgischen Konzerte Nr.4, Nr.5 und Nr. 6 / Konzert für Violine und Oboe (Philips Classics, 1965)
Toccata und Fuge d-moll BWV 565 (Deutsche Grammophone, 1967)
3 Sonaten für Viola da Gamba und Cembalo (ECM Records, 1994)
Toccata and Fugue "Dorian" / Trio Sonata No. 4 (Point Classics, 1994)
Best Of Bach (Point Classics, 1995)
Gloria J.S.Bach (Deutsche Grammophone, 2000)
Sonatas Nos.1,2 & Partitas No.1 (EMI Classics, 2000)
Sonatas No.3 & Partitas Nos.2,3 (EMI Classics, 2000)
Six Suites for Solo Cello BWV 1007-1012 (Arcana Records, 2004)