Bach is widely considered to be the greatest classical composer of all time. Mozart gets a lot of street cred and Beethoven’s riffs are pretty famous, but in terms of true originality and genius, Bach trumps them all.
Born in Eisenach, a town in today’s central Germany, Bach received piano lessons, (which were really organ or harpsichord lessons) from his brother, father and second cousin, who were all musicians. He became an organist after his preliminary education, and worked hard to learn his craft. During his 20s he began to write what would become known as The Well-Tempered Clavier, one of the most influential works in Western Classical Music.
Bach incorporated Italian styles of composition from famous violinists such as Vivaldi and Corelli into his music. Solos during orchestral movements were new at the time, and Bach used these techniques to his advantage. He bounced around German cities such as Weimar and Kothen before settling in Leipzig.
At this time Handel, (you know, Ha-lleluJAH) was very famous. He was born just 80 miles from Bach, and traveled all over the continent, performing and eventually settling in London. Bach and Handel were supposed to hang out in Germany but it never happened.
Bach became a Cantor in Leipzig, which meant that he had to write and perform cantatas for every feast day and every Sunday. He wrote a new one every week for three years. These eventually led to the Mass in B Minor, akin to Metallica of the 18th century in intensity, and all about the glory of God.
When Bach was older, his national fame led him to Potsdam, where the German king, Friedrich II, lived. He challenged Bach to improvise something on his piano and Bach played a nasty fugue and totally impressed the king. Kind of like the rap battles of today, organ battles were common in the baroque era. Pretty cool to think that Eminem is the inheritor of a tradition that began with a dude named Johann.
But after he died, Bach fell into relative obscurity. Composers thought he was old-fashioned. Eventually though, he came back. Beethoven loved Bach and called him “the father of harmony.” In the 20th century, certain advertisers used his music to make his work more famous than it ever has been.
Now we’re not saying that we can make you the next Johann Sebastian Bach, but we sure can teach you how to play his music when you sign-up for lessons on the piano.
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