German Classical Music

Artists of Classical Music
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Gustav Mahler
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Arnold Schönberg
  • Robert Schumann
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • Richard Wagner

Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685 - 1750

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31, 1685, in Eisenach, being the youngest son of the director of the town musicians, Johann Ambrosius Bach. Many members of the musical Bach family were professional musicians and young Johann Sebastian learned to play violin, harpsichord and organ at a young age. Having finished his formal musical education, Bach took up increasingly prestigious posts as court musician and organist in Weimar, Arnstadt, Mühlhausen, Weimar, Köthen and Leipzig. He died aged 65, presumably from the consequences of an eye operation.

Considered by many to be the greatest composer in the history of western music, Bach's ultimate achievement lies in the synthesis and development of the primitive language of the late Baroque counterpoint. He managed to combine and expand the harmonic frame and formal traditions of the national schools in his time (German, French, Italian and English), all the while upholding his personal identity. He is also known for numeric symbolism and the mathematical exactness of his music.

Most of his working life took place in a Lutheran church in Leipzig, where he played the organ and was musical director at the same time, and it is because of this that so much of his music carries a religious tone to it. Besides his large range of compositions for the organ, many appreciate his work for the other keyboard instrument, the clavichord, compositions that are still used to this day to teach the forms of the fugue and the counterpoint.

Among some of his most prominent compositions are the St. John Passions and St. Mathew Passions, the Brandenburg Concerts and the Goldberg Variations.