Title Of Paper JS Bach Essay

Title Of Paper : J.S. Bach Essay, Research Paper

Grade Received on Report : 88

Johann Sebastian Bach

Since the dawn of music, there have been many great

composers throughout the world. However, no composer had a

greater impact to music than Johann Sebastian Bach from the

Baroque era (1600 ad. -1750 ad.). Johann Sebastian Bach was a

forefather to music as the author Homer was a forefather Western

literature. Yet, unlike Homer’s uses of words and verses in his

literature, J.S. Bach used notes and chords in his music which to him

was an apparatus of worship.

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685, in

Eisenach, Thuringina, into a family that over seven generations

created at least 53 outstanding musicians. He first received musical

training from his father, Johann Ambrosius, a town musician. Stricken

by his father’s death at the young age of 10, he went to reside and

study with his older brother, Johann Christoph, an organist in Ohrdruf.

In 1700, Bach began to earn his own living as a chorister at the

Church of Saint Michael in Luneburg. Later in 1703, he became a

violinist in the chamber orchestra at the Church of Prince Ernst of

Weimar, but later moved to Arnstadt, where he became a church

organist. In October 1705, Bach went to Lubeck to study with the

distinguished Danish-born German organist and composer Dietrich

Buxtehude which largely affected Bach. Bach was then criticized for

the new lavish flourishes and bizarre harmonies in his organ

accompaniments to congregational singing. He was already too

highly respected, nevertheless, for either objection to result in his

dismissal. Then in 1707, he went to Mulhausen as an organist in the

Church of Saint Blasius. The next year, he went back to Weimar as

an organist and violinist at the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst and abide

there for the next 9 years, becoming concertmaster of the court

orchestra in 1714. In Weimar he composed about 30 cantatas, and

also wrote organ and harpsichord works. In 1717, Bach began a 6-

year employment as chapelmaster and director of chamber music at

the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Kothen. During this time he

basically wrote secular music for ensembles and solo instruments. In

addition, he prepared music books with the intent of teaching

keyboard technique and musicianship. These books include the Well-

Tempered Clavier, the Inventions, and the Little Organ Book.

In 1723, Bach moved to Leipzig were he spent the rest of his

life. At Leipzig, he became the music director and choirmaster of

Saint Thomas’s church. Life at Leipzig however was unsatisfactory.

He continually quarreled with the town council, and neither the council

nor the critics appreciated his musical genius. They saw him more a

stifling elderly man who clung stubbornly to obsolete forms of music.

Regardless, the 202 cantatas surviving from the 295 that he wrote in

Leipzig are still played today, whereas a lot that was new and in craze

at the same time has been forgotten. Nearly all of the cantatas start

with a section for both chorus and orchestra, continue with alternating

recitatives and arias for solo voices and accompaniment, and end

with a chorale based on a simple Lutheran hymn. Among these works

are the Ascension Cantata and the Christmas Oratorio, the following

including of six cantatas. The Passion of St. John and the Passion of

St. Matthew also were composed in Leipzig, as was the momentous

Mass in B Minor. Among the works written for keyboard during this

period are the famous Goldberg Variations, Part II of the Well-

Tempered Clavier, and The Art of the Fugue, a grand exhibition of his

contrapuntal ability in the form of 16 fugues and 4 canons, all on a

single theme. Bach’s sight began to deteriorate in the concluding year

of his life, and he died on July 28, 1750, following undergoing an

failed eye operation.

J.S. Bach’s greatest impact to music was his own music. The

importance of Bach’s music is due in a big part to the magnitude of

his intellect. He is the best recognized as a ultimate master of

counterpoint. He was able to understand and use every resource of

musical language that was available in the Baroque era as Homer did

with the Greek language of Archaic Greece. At the same time, he

could compose for voice and the different instruments so as to take

advantage of the peculiar characteristics of the make up and tone

quality in each. Also, when a text was associated with the music, J.S.

Bach could compose musical equivalents of verbal concepts, such as

expanding melody to characterize the sea, or a canon to depict the

Christians following the teachings of Jesus.

In addition, Bach’s capability to access and utilize the media,

styles, and genre of his day let him to accomplish many astonishing

transfers of idiom. For example, he could take an Italian ensemble

composition, such as a violin concerto, and convert it into a

persuasive work for a single instrument, the harpsichord. By devising

elaborate melodic lines, he could communicate the complex texture

of a multivoiced fugue on a single-melody instrument. The

conversational rhythms and sparse on a textures of operatic

recitatives can be found in some of his works for solo keyboard.

After J.S. Bach’s death he was remembered less as a

composer that an organist and harpsichord player. His numerous

tours had guaranteed his reputation as the greatest organist of all

time, but his contrapuntal style of writing sounded old-fashioned to his

contemporaries, most of whom preferred the fresh pre-classical styles

then coming into fashion, which were more homophonic in subject

and less contrapuntal than J.S. Bach’s music. Thus, for the next 80

years his music was overlooked by the public, although a few

musicians admired it, among them Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and

Ludwig van Beethoven. A revival of interest in J.S. Bach’s music

occurred in the mid-19th century. The German composer Felix

Mendelson arranged a performance of the Passion of St. Matthew in

1829, which led to a popular interest in J.S. Bach.

Technical expertise alone, of course, was not the origin of J.S.

Bach’s greatness. It is the expressiveness and emotion of his music,

especially as revealed in the vocal works, that portrays his humanity

and that reaches listeners everywhere.


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