Johann Sebastian Bach

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Johann Sebastian Bach 1746, with riddle canon (oil painting by Elias Gottlob Haußmann )
Bach's signature
Bach's self-designed seal with the first letters of his name, JSB, interwoven in mirror image

Johann Sebastian Bach (born March 21 . Jul / 31 March  1685 greg. In Eisenach , Saxe-Eisenach , † 28. July 1750 in Leipzig , Electorate ) was a German composer , cantor and organ - and harpsichord virtuoso of the baroque . In his main creative period he was the Thomaskantor in Leipzig. He is the most prominent representative of the Bach family of musicians and is today one of the most famous and important musicians of all. Professional musicians in particular often regard him as the greatest composer in music history. His works influenced subsequent generations of composers and inspired music-making artists to do countless arrangements.

During his lifetime Bach was highly valued as a virtuoso , organist and organ inspector, but his compositions were only known to a relatively small circle. After Bach's death, his works fell into oblivion for decades and were rarely performed in public. After the composers of the Viennese Classicism had dealt with parts of Bach's work, the Bach renaissance began with the re-performance of the St. Matthew Passion under the direction of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in 1829 . Since the middle of the 19th century his works have been part of the repertoire of classical music worldwide.


Eisenach (1685–1695)

Eisenach around 1647 (copper engraving by Matthäus Merian )
Thuringia and adjacent areas around 1685. The region was split up into a large number of smaller dominions, one of which was the Duchy of Saxony-Eisenach .
Inside of the Georgenkirche with the baptismal font in which Bach was baptized

Johann Sebastian Bach comes from the widely ramified Lutheran central German Bach family whose date from the 16th century traceable paternal ancestors and relatives almost all as cantors , organists, town musicians , members of court orchestras or clavichord / harpsichord - and According to farmers in the space between Werra and Saale were active . The family tree of the Bach family can be traced back to his great-great-grandfather Veit (or Vitus) Bach , who left Hungary or Moravia / Slovakia as a Protestant refugee and settled as a baker in Wechmar near Gotha, the home of his ancestors. He already played the " Cithrinchen ", a plucked instrument. His son Johannes was not only active as a baker, but also as a "minstrel". The other descendants were all musicians. Johann Sebastian Bach himself wrote a chronicle about the "origin of the musical-Bach family" with short biographies of 53 family members from 1735.

Johann Sebastian was the youngest of eight children of Johann Ambrosius Bach (1645–1695) and his wife Elisabeth, née Lemmerhirt (1644–1694). His father was a town piper in Eisenach and a court trumpeter in the small chapel of Duke Johann Georg I and then of Duke Johann Georg II of Saxony-Eisenach . When Bach was born , the Julian calendar still applied in the Protestant territories of Germany, including in his birthplace Eisenach . His date of birth is usually given with the locally valid date, March 21, 1685; according to the Gregorian calendar, his date of birth is March 31st. Since the Protestant imperial estates joined the Gregorian calendar in 1700 , all dates in Bach's biography since 1700, including the date of Bach's death, are exclusively Gregorian. The house where he was born in what was then Fleischgasse (today Lutherstrasse 35) no longer exists. Two days after his birth, Johann Sebastian Bach was baptized in the Georgenkirche in Eisenach. Johann Sebastian received his two first names from his two godparents , Sebastian Nagel, town piper of Gotha , and the princely Eisenach forest officer Johann Georg Koch. His nickname was Sebastian.

Although Eisenach only had about 6,000 inhabitants when Bach was born, it had a very important musical life. Since 1672 it was the residential town of the small principality of Saxony-Eisenach , whose court orchestra attracted well-known musicians, including Johann Pachelbel 1677–1678, Daniel Eberlin 1672–1692 and Georg Philipp Telemann 1708–1712. Bach spent his early childhood in Eisenach, where he first came into contact with church and organ music through his father's cousin, the organist of the Eisenach Georgenkirche, Johann Christoph Bach . His father probably taught him the basics of playing the violin . At the age of eight Bach came to the Latin school of the former Dominican monastery in Eisenach, which the reformer Martin Luther had attended 200 years earlier ; previously Johann Sebastian Bach had probably attended the German school.

His mother died on May 3, 1694. On November 27, 1694, his father married the widow Barbara Margaretha Bartholomäi, née Keul; but he died only a few months later on February 20th / 2. March 1695. At the age of nine, Johann Sebastian became an orphan . His stepmother wanted to continue the office of her deceased husband with the help of the city piper journeyman and apprentice, but did not get permission from the city of Eisenach. So she could no longer look after the children herself. Johann Sebastian Bach moved with his brother Johann Jacob to his older brother Johann Christoph Bach in Ohrdruf .

School register of the Ohrdruf Lyceum. JS Bach is the fourth student on the second list

Ohrdruf (1695–1700)

Thirteen years older brother Johann Christoph, organist at St. Michaelis in Ohrdruf, took over his further education and musical training and taught him how to play the keyboard instruments . At this point at the latest, Johann Sebastian's interest in music and instruments should have developed. In Ohrdruf he learned to play the organ and gained a deeper understanding of the structure and mechanics of the instrument - presumably from 1697 onwards through the many repairs to the organ in Michaeliskirche, in which his brother Johann Christoph also participated. He also worked as a choir singer.

In Ohrdruf Johann Sebastian attended the Lyceum up to the Prima . His cousin Johann Ernst Bach and his lifelong friend Georg Erdmann were his classmates in the Secunda . Bach's academic achievements in Ohrdruf have been passed down as very good. He was taught Latin and Greek, mathematics, geography, catechism and evangelical religion. He was able to contribute to his maintenance through a school grant (“ free table ” or “free place”). These school scholarships were donated by wealthy citizens. Associated with this was the obligation to give private lessons to the sons of these families.

The report from the necrology on Bach also comes from the Ohrdruf period , stating that Johann Christoph kept valuable works by composers from the later half of the 17th century in a cupboard with bare bars and that his brother apparently refused to copy them. According to the necrology, Johann Sebastian is said to have secretly copied the notes "by moonlight", but was caught by his brother. The necrology falsely reports that Johann Christoph died as early as 1700 and that Bach only received the works that were forbidden to him here. According to Christoph Wolff, copying the notes left no gap between Bach and his brother. Both remained closely connected until Johann Christoph's death in 1721.

He has never forgotten the care and help that Johann Sebastian received in Ohrdruf. He received significant support from his brother in his musical and creative start and growing up. In the Möller handwriting of Bach's Ohrdrufer Choralbuch, which was mainly created by Johann Christoph, there are at least 25 of the first works by the young Johann Sebastian.

When the opposite situation occurred after his brother's death and his nephew Johann Heinrich needed help, Bach took him in from 1724 to 1728 in Leipzig.

Lüneburg and Weimar (1700–1703)

St. Michaelis in Lueneburg
Bach's copy of Reincken's An Wasserflüssen Babylon , notated in organ tablature

After the unexpected loss of their “free tables” at the Lyceum in Ohrdruf, 14-year-old Bach and his classmate Erdmann decided to continue their schooling in the particular school of the Michaeliskloster in Lüneburg . The academic level at the particular school in Lüneburg was higher than at the Ohrdrufer Lyceum. In addition, the pupils got to know the basis of courtly tradition through the neighborhood of the knight school.

What is certain is that Bach took his violin with him to Lüneburg. For the first time Bach and Erdmann be in the recording of the April 3, 1700 Mette listed ngeldzahlungen. Both did not have to pay school fees, but were obliged to do their job as Mettenchor singers. In contrast to all of his siblings and his ancestors, who had all given up higher education in favor of an apprenticeship as a musician, Bach chose a higher education that qualified for university studies. In spring 1702 he successfully graduated from school in Lüneburg.

The composer Georg Böhm was organist at St. Johannis at that time . His influence on Bach's early organ works and piano suites can be assumed in a critical analysis of the style, but not proven. In 2005 , copies of organ works by Dieterich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reincken , the famous organist of St. Katharinen in Hamburg during Bach's time, discovered in the old holdings of the Weimar Duchess Anna Amalia Library , however, suggest that the 15-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach was the copy von Reincken's chorale fantasy An Wasserflüssen Babylon for organ lessons with Georg Böhm. It is dated by Bach with a reference to Boehm: “Dom. Georg: Böhme | descriptum aõ. 1700 | Lunaburgi ".

According to the Nekrolog, Bach “traveled from Lüneburg [...] occasionally to Hamburg to hear Johann Adam Reinken, the then famous organist at the Catharinenkirche”. The organ of St. Catherine's Church, which was considered the most famous and most beautiful instrument in Northern Germany, left a lasting impression on him. The necrology also mentions that Bach had the opportunity during his time in Lüneburg to "establish himself in the French taste [...] by frequently hearing a chapel that was famous at the time, which the Duke vonzell maintained and which consisted mostly of French. Bach was able to hear this “chapel” in the Lüneburg residence of Duke Georg Wilhelm . Among the French musicians was the ballet master of the knight academy Thomas de la Selle , a student of Lully .

Between Easter 1702, when Bach had finished his school days in Lüneburg, and 1703, Bach's traces cannot be traced in more detail. He probably moved back from Lüneburg to Thuringia, as he had lost free board and lodging when he finished school. It is possible that he initially stayed with his older sister Maria Salome in Erfurt or with his Ohrdrufer brother Christoph, who had meanwhile improved significantly economically. From a later letter from Bach it emerges that in July he unsuccessfully applied for the vacant position as organist at St. Jacobi in Sangerhausen .

Arnstadt (1703–1707)

Bach Church in Arnstadt
Autograph of the chorale arrangement How beautifully the Morgenstern BWV 739
shines from Bach's time in Arnstadt
St. Marien zu Lübeck, as it looked in Bach's time

From March 1703 at the latest, Bach was employed as a lackey and violinist in the private band of the co-regent Johann Ernst von Sachsen-Weimar . During an organ rehearsal on March 17, 1703, Bach made contact with the council in Arnstadt. On August 9, 1703, Bach received his appointment as organist of the New Church in Arnstadt without any further audition . For an unusually high salary of 50 guilders and 30 guilders for board and lodging, Bach was initially only responsible for organ playing at the New Church, but was later also required to work with the lyceum choir.

At the end of 1704, three orphaned second cousins, daughters of Johann Michael Bach, moved to Arnstadt . Bach developed a strong affection for the youngest, Maria Barbara Bach , who now lived in the mayor's house.

In November 1705 he emigrated to study in Lübeck in order, as stated in the obituary, "the dasigen famous organist at the Marienkirche Diedrich Buxtehuden to behorchen", but possibly also in order to succeed the 70-year-old organist at St. Mary's to apply. He had been given four weeks' leave. He extended this until January 1706 and had himself represented as organist in Arnstadt by his cousin Johann Ernst. This trip to Buxtehude gave Bach valuable musical impressions. It is very likely that Bach was also able to play on the famous old dance organ of St. Marien. Buxtehude's evening music , organ and piano works and his incomparable organ playing were an incentive for the young organist and composer. The first surviving organ and piano works by Bach show the influence of Buxtehude. These include chorale preludes such as How beautifully the morning star shines ( BWV 739) and preludes, toccatas, partitas and fantasies.

Buxtehude was very impressed by Bach. The condition for the successor in the position was to marry Buxtehude's eldest daughter Anna Margreta. However, Bach was not attracted to this woman ten years older than him.

The files at hand show that Bach had conflicts with the Arnstadt consistory on several occasions. This concerned his behavior towards the choir members, his vacation overdraft and his way of playing the organ. He also made music with a “strange maiden” in church. - Bach hoped to avoid the tightness of these conditions by moving to Mühlhausen.

Mühlhausen (1707–1708)

Mühlhausen around 1650 (copper engraving by Matthäus Merian)
Bach's handwritten signature on the cover of the cantata Gott ist mein König , 1708. He spells himself in Italian as Gio. Bast. Bach (= Giovanni Bastiano Bach)

After Bach had auditioned in the Free Imperial City of Mühlhausen on April 24, 1707 , he began his service as organist there on July 1 at the Divi Blasii Church . His salary was 85 guilders plus natural goods and income from the neighboring churches - a considerably higher payment than his predecessor and successor, which now allowed him to start a family. On October 17, 1707 he married Maria Barbara Bach . The marriage has seven children:

As commissioned, Bach composed the festive cantata Gott ist mein König (BWV 71) for the change of council on February 4, 1708 , which is the only print from this period that has survived.

In June 1708, in connection with the completion of the renovation work on the organ there, Bach traveled to Weimar and played in front of Duke Wilhelm Ernst . This offered him the position of court organist and chamber musician with a salary of 150 guilders plus natural produce. A big fire in Mühlhausen had made living costs more expensive, so that on June 25, 1708 - barely a year after taking office - Bach asked for his release in Mühlhausen. His successor was Johann Friedrich Bach (1682–1730), son of Johann Christoph Bach . Johann Sebastian Bach remained connected to the city of Mühlhausen: In the two following years he also received orders for council change cantatas, which were also printed at the city's expense, but have been lost.

Weimar (1708-1717)

Christian Richter (around 1660): Weimar Palace Church, Bach's place of work
Booking of salary payments in Weimar: "Dem Laqueÿ Baachen"

In the first half of July 1708, Bach moved to Weimar with his pregnant wife and moved into the house where the composer and violinist Johann Paul von Westhoff had lived until 1705 . On December 29 of the same year, the first child, Catharina Dorothea , was baptized. During the Weimar period, five more children followed: Wilhelm Friedemann (born November 22, 1710), the twins Maria Sophia and Johann Christoph (born February 23, 1713, both died soon after), Carl Philipp Emanuel (born March 8, 1714) and Johann Gottfried Bernhard (born May 11, 1715).

Bach attached great importance to the education of his sons, including the later born Johann Christoph Friedrich and Johann Christian . All received a full school education and later went to university. Much of Bach's organ work was created during the Weimar period, including his Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor and numerous toccatas , preludes and fugues . Here he began his little organ book , which was designed as a collection of 164 chorale preludes, of which he only completed 44.

On February 21 and 22, 1713, Bach was in Weißenfels on the occasion of the celebrations for the birthday of Duke Christian von Sachsen-Weißenfels . The hunting cantata BWV 208, Bach's earliest known secular cantata, may have been performed there. Only a few church cantatas have survived from the earlier Weimar period.

Towards the end of 1713, after performing a rehearsal cantata, Bach was offered the position of organist at the market church of St. Marien and Liebfrauen in Halle . He received his appointment from the church council on December 14th, but hesitated to sign the contract and only sent a final rejection on March 19, 1714 on the grounds that the salary did not meet his expectations.

JE Rentsch the Elder: Bach (?) As concertmaster in Weimar, 1715

On March 2, 1714, Bach was appointed concertmaster in Weimar . Although he was still below the Kapell- and Vice-Kapellmeister in the hierarchy, at 250 guilders he got a considerably higher salary than both. With the new office there was an obligation to compose a church cantata every four weeks for the respective Sunday. The first to be heard on March 25th ( Palm Sunday and at the same time the Annunciation ) was the cantata Himmelskönig, Be Willkommen (BWV 182). It was followed at regular intervals by at least 20 other works that formed the basis of the later Leipzig cantatas. Almost nothing is known about the instrumental repertoire that Bach maintained with the Weimar court orchestra, because all documents and sheet music were destroyed in the fire at Wilhelmsburg in 1774 .

Apparently, his relationships with the Dresden music director Johann Georg Pisendel were also important to Bach . Style-critical comparisons of Bach's and Pisendel's solo works for violin suggest that Pisendel inspired Bach to compose the six sonatas and partitas. Bach and Pisendel had already spent some time together in Weimar in 1709 and have since exchanged compositions. Pisendel, who was briefly a student of Antonio Vivaldi , may have conveyed Vivaldi's compositions to Bach. In addition, the prince's young, musically gifted nephew, Prince Johann Ernst , had become acquainted with Italian music in the Netherlands and brought back many scores from there. In the Weimar years, Bach transcribed several works by Vivaldi (especially from Vivaldi's L'Estro Armonico ), such as the harpsichord concertos in D major (BWV 972), C major (BWV 976) and F major (BWV 978). On the occasion of the wedding of his employer Ernst August on January 24, 1716 in Nienburg , he first met his brother-in-law, the young Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen there. When the previous court conductor Augustin Reinhard Stricker left his post in the following year , Bach signed the contract as his successor in office in Köthen on August 5, 1717, without having asked for his release in Weimar beforehand. When he wanted to make up for this, he did not receive his resignation, but was arrested in the district judge's room on November 6th because of his "stubborn testimony". On December 2, he was released from prison and employment in disgrace.

Koethen (1717–1723)

Köthen around 1650 (copper engraving)
Anhalt-Köthen was one of four Anhalt principalities
Sonata 1ma á Violino Solo senza Basso di JSBach : Adagio; Autograph 1720

In Koethen , Bach was Kapellmeister and Director of their Cammer-Musiquen . He valued the musical young Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen , who often took part as a violinist in the orchestra, and was evidently close to him personally, which can be concluded from the fact that both Leopold and his siblings August Ludwig and Eleonore Wilhelmine were godparents of Bach's Their son Leopold August was born on November 15, 1718. Already appointed Kapellmeister on August 7, 1717, Bach accepted a fee of 50 thalers when the contract was signed. In total, his annual income in the role of Kapellmeister was 400 thalers. There was also a rent subsidy of twelve talers.

Bach was able to compose for an excellent band in Köthen. Prince Leopold had employed up to 17 musicians, some of whom came from the chapel of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I , which was dissolved in 1713 . Eight of the instrumentalists, including Christian Ferdinand Abel , were of soloist quality and had the rank of Cammermusicus. The prince equipped his band with good instruments and sent Bach to Berlin to buy a new harpsichord in 1719. It was there that Bach met the art-loving Margrave Christian Ludwig . For him he put together older and newer instrumental sets as Six Concerts Avec plusieures Instruments in 1721 , which were therefore later called Brandenburg Concerts (BWV 1046-1051).

On the other hand, the prince's reformed confession had consequences: there was little need for sacred music. Because, according to the Reformed belief, the service should be kept simple. For the Lutheran St. Agnus Church , to which Bach belonged as a parish member, occasional performances of Bach's works can be assumed based on sheet music, but cannot be proven with certainty.

When Bach returned from Karlsbad in 1720 after a two-month journey by the court , he learned that his wife Maria Barbara had died after a short illness and had already been buried. The cause of death is unknown. On December 3, 1721, he married Anna Magdalena , the youngest daughter of the royal court and field trumpeter of Saxony-Weißenfels Johann Kaspar Wilcke, who had come to the Köthener court as a soprano in June 1721 . This second marriage had 13 children, most of whom died in childhood:

  • Christiana Sophia Henrietta (1723-1726)
  • Gottfried Heinrich (1724–1763)
  • Christian Gottlieb (1725–1728)
  • Elisabeth Juliana Friederica, called "Liesgen" (1726–1781)
  • Ernestus Andreas (* / † 1727)
  • Regina Johanna (1728–1733)
  • Christiana Benedicta (* / † 1730)
  • Christiana Dorothea (1731-1732)
  • Johann Christoph Friedrich , the Bückeburg Bach (1732–1795)
  • Johann August Abraham (* / † 1733)
  • Johann Christian , the Milanese or London Bach (1735–1782)
  • Johanna Carolina (1737–1781)
  • Regina Susanna (1742–1809)

In the years 1726 to 1733 seven small children died in the family, one son (Gottfried Heinrich) was mentally handicapped. In 1728, at the age of 51, Bach's last surviving sister Maria Salome also died. Some Bach biographers suspect that these strokes of fate caused Bach to get into a creative crisis in the following years.

As a contribution to the musical education of his children, Bach began on January 22nd, 1720 the Clavierbüchlein for the eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann, which among other things contains the two-part inventions and three-part symphonies . The little piano book written for Anna Magdalena Bachin in 1722 contains the early versions of the French suites . In addition to the Well-Tempered Clavier and the six violin partits and sonatas , these are the autograph instrumental compositions that can certainly be dated to the Köthen period . In addition, some birthday and New Year cantatas have survived. It is certain that Bach wrote a considerable number of concerts and other instrumental compositions for the court, many of which have been lost or have survived in later arrangements as harpsichord concertos or cantatas. For reasons that were not entirely clear, Prince Leopold seemed to turn more and more away from Bach's ensemble music around 1722, which prompted him to look for new positions. Bach speculated that this turning away from music was caused by the Prince's wife, Friederike Henriette von Anhalt-Bernburg , who he married in 1721. Princess Friederike Henriette, however, died in childbirth in 1723, even before Bach took up his position as Thomaskantor. From 1722 onwards, Prince Leopold had lower budgets, triggered by the military annexation to Prussia and ongoing conflicts in the royal house of the Ascanians . In addition, there were increasing disputes between Reformed and Lutherans. The poorly run Latin school in Koethen is also likely to have prompted Bach to move to give his sons a better education.

As early as September 1720, the organist position at St. Jacobi in Hamburg , for which Bach applied. He was admitted to the audition by the Hamburg council, but then turned it down, probably because taking over the position was associated with a considerable purchase price. The dedication of the Brandenburg Concerts on March 24, 1721 to Margrave Christian Ludwig von Brandenburg-Schwedt may also be seen in connection with Bach's search for a new job. Bach does not seem to have received a letter of thanks or a salary from Christian Ludwig von Brandenburg, at least there is no document today that provides information on this.

With the death of Johann Kuhnau on June 5, 1722, the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig became vacant. After a first audition on July 14th , Georg Philipp Telemann was chosen from among the applicants, including Johann Friedrich Fasch (Kapellmeister at the court of Anhalt-Zerbst ) and Christian Friedrich Rolle (music director in Magdeburg ) . Since Telemann stayed in Hamburg because of a raise in salary, a second rehearsal for the cantor was scheduled in which, in addition to Bach, Georg Friedrich Kauffmann from Merseburg , who resigned voluntarily, Christoph Graupner (Kapellmeister in Darmstadt) and Georg Balthasar Schott (organist at the New Church in Leipzig) ran for. On February 7, 1723, Bach performed the cantatas Jesus took to himself , BWV 22, and You true God and David's son , BWV 23, as a test piece . Graupner was elected, but had to decline because the Hessian Landgrave refused to release him. Thus, Bach became the Thomaskantor “as a third choice”, an office that he held until his death. Bach was allowed to carry on the title of Princely Koethenian Kapellmeister, and he continued to deliver music for the festive days of the Princely House until Leopold's death (1728). He also traveled several times to Köthen between 1724 and 1728, where he met Prince Leopold and performed music for him. Bach remained closely associated with the prince until his death.

Leipzig (1723–1750)


Photograph of the Thomas School in Leipzig from 1896. Bach's family lived in the left third of the house
Thomaskirche in Leipzig 1749 (copper engraving)
360 ° New Bach Monument in Leipzig
Show as spherical panorama

At the end of May 1723 Bach began his service in Leipzig as Thomaskantor ; he was to keep this position until his death in 1750. As cantor and music director he was responsible for the music in the four main churches of the city. This included the preparation of a cantata performance on all Sundays and public holidays. He was also responsible for taking music lessons at the Thomas School . The boarding school students were obliged to help shape the services as choristers. His deputation as a Latin teacher, which was traditionally associated with his position, he transferred to Siegmund Friedrich Dresig , the vice-principal of the school, in return for a cash payment .

Immediately after his arrival, Bach began to compose or revise the necessary cantatas. With this systematic work, Bach must have created an average of about one work per week in the first two years, after which he slowed down the pace. A total of two complete years have come down to us, the Nekrolog reports three more (see Bach cantata ). In addition, there were orders for cantatas for weddings, christenings and funerals.

For Christmas 1723 Bach wrote the second version of the Magnificat in E flat major with the Christmas insertions, for Good Friday 1724 his most comprehensive work to date, the St. John Passion , and for Christmas 1724 a Sanctus . In early 1725 Bach met the lyricist Christian Friedrich Henrici alias Picander, who finally provided the text for the St. Matthew Passion , which was premiered in 1727 or 1729. The performance conditions had deteriorated overall in these first years in Leipzig. Bach was therefore forced to document his ideas of the vocal and instrumental equipment of a "well-stocked church music" in a petition to the City Council of Leipzig on August 23, 1730. This "most necessary draft" is today an important source for the historical performance practice of his works. During this time, Bach tried to get the title of court composer in Dresden , as he was dissatisfied with the pay, the high cost of living and the Leipzig authorities, from whom he wanted more support.

Shortly after their creation, Bach reworked several of his homage cantatas into sacred works. This parody method is the Christmas Oratorio owed by 1734/1735, the Ascension Oratorio from 1735 and the Easter Oratorio . The so-called Lutheran masses were created by parodying sacred cantatas , as well as the original two-movement version of the B minor mass in 1733 . After submitting this work to the electoral court in Dresden, Bach received the longed-for news on November 19, 1736, that he could call himself a “ royal Polish and electoral Saxon composer at Dero Hoff-Capelle”. The title was neither associated with privileges nor income, but strengthened his position vis-à-vis the Leipzig authorities.

Secular music

Zimmermannisches Caffee-Hauß (right), place of the musical concerts or gatherings

In 1729 Bach took over the management of the Collegium musicum founded by Telemann in 1701 , which he held until 1741, perhaps even until 1746. With this student ensemble he performed German and Italian instrumental and vocal music, including his own concerts in Weimar and Köthen, which he later turned into harpsichord concerts with up to four soloists. The concerts took place once or twice a week in the Zimmermannisches Caffee-Hauß (destroyed in the war in 1943) or in the associated garden. They are proof of the awakening civic desire for high-quality musical entertainment in Leipzig.

For these performances Bach also wrote several secular cantatas, such as B. The quarrel between Phoebus and Pan or Hercules at the crossroads . Bach called these works "Dramma per Musica". His peasant cantata , which he called “Cantate burlesque”, and the coffee cantata are examples of the humorous genre.

In addition to Bach himself, his sons and students were available as soloists. During his entire time in Leipzig, Bach was a sought-after teacher. Often the students lived in his household. The aim of the lesson was to train musicians who, as instrumentalists and composers, were up to the varied tasks at court, in church and in the beginning bourgeois musical life. Bach's lessons bore fruit especially with his sons. For these lessons, Bach used his own older and newer compositions. He summarized many of them and published them as keyboard exercises I, II, III and IV .

The last few years

Autograph of the end of the unfinished last fugue from the art of fugue with Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's addition:
" NB over this fugue, where the name BACH was added in the contrasubject, the author died."

In the 1740s, Bach seems to have largely withdrawn from new compositions for the church. In addition to commissioned works such as the cantata Mer hahn en new Oberkeet (BWV 212) performed on August 30, 1742 for the 36th birthday of Count von Dieskau , he evidently concentrated entirely on extensive works for harpsichord.

So in November 1741 he went to Dresden, probably to present Hermann Graf von Keyserlingk with the “ Goldberg Variations ”, which appeared in print that same autumn. In 1744 he published the second part of the Well-Tempered Clavier . In 1746 at the latest he gave up the management of the Collegium musicum. In May 1747 he visited Potsdam and Berlin at the invitation of Frederick the Great , in whose court orchestra Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was employed as a harpsichordist, and played the pianoforti and organs there. He improvised on a theme given by the king and then published the Musical Offering , a collection of two fugues, ten canons and a trio sonata on this theme.

A few canonical changes to the Weynacht song: From Heaven Up There I Come Here is the title of a work of variations that Bachsubmitted when he joined the Corresponding Society of Musical Sciences foundedby Lorenz Christoph Mizler in1747. Another important late work of contrapuntal byBach is the art of the fugue , the first fair copy of which Bach completed in 1742, but which he subsequently expanded and revised extensively by 1749. The collection of simple joints, counter joints, mirror joints, joints with several themes and canons represents a compendium of the techniques of joint composition. Bach's last years also saw the completion of the B minor mass .

Discontinued July 31, 1750
Johann Sebastian Bach's grave in the St. Thomas Church

In his final years, Bach suffered from an eye disease. Motor disorders in the right arm and thus in the writing hand are also reported. From 1749 there are no more written documents from him. The last letter from Bach's hand comes from April 12, 1749, in which he praised his representative of the cantor, the choir prefect Johann Nathanael Bammler, as a good representative in the "absence of mine". The last known signature dates from May 6, 1749, the associated text was written by his son Johann Christoph Friedrich. It is a receipt for the sale of a fort piano to a Polish nobleman. The compositions Et incarnatus est and the unfinished Contrapunctus XIV from the art of fugue are the composer's last manuscripts, which were completed by the turn of the year 1749/50 at the latest. His wife Anna Magdalena or his son Johann Christian have since signed all documents for him.

Bach's health, which had deteriorated by the middle of 1749 at the latest, probably made it impossible for him to carry out a work for Count Johann Adam von Questenberg . He asked the young lieutenant Count Franz Ernst von Wallis, who was studying law at Leipzig University, to establish contact with Bach, and received the following answer from him:

"He has shown great pleasure from your Excellentz, as his most gracious patron saint, and benefactor, to receive some news and asked me to enclose the present letter."

The Nekrolog, written mainly by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Friedrich Agricola , completed in 1751 and published in 1754, writes about the last months of his life :

“His naturally somewhat stupid face [d. H. Short-sightedness or weak-sightedness ], which was weakened even more by his unheard-of zeal in his study [...], brought him an eye disease in his last years. He wanted to have the same [...] lifted by an operation. But this [...] went very badly. Not only could he not need his face again: but his body, which was otherwise healthy, was at the same time completely thrown out of the heap by this, and by added harmful medicaments and other things: so that he spent a full six months, almost always was sickly. Ten days before his death his eyes seemed to be getting better; so that once in the morning he could see quite well again, and also bear the light again. A few hours later, he was attacked by a flapping river ; this was followed by a heated fever, on which he […] on July 28, 1750, in the evening after a quarter to nine o'clock, in the sixtieth year of his age, on the merit of his Savior, gently and happily passed away. "

The eyesight, presumably restricted since youth due to moderate nearsightedness , decreased so much that Bach was twice "star" in Leipzig from the then controversial oculist John Taylor (1703–1772) between March 28 and April 7, 1750 had an operation . After the second operation, Bach did not fully recover, despite or because of further treatment measures by various doctors. He did not regain his eyesight. From today's point of view, it is difficult to establish a clear connection between the eye operations, a presumably existing adult diabetes and the illness leading to death four months later.

Bach died on the evening of July 28, 1750 and was buried three days later in the Johannisfriedhof in Leipzig. More than a century later, individual groups of St. Thomas paid their last respects to Bach on July 28th. On October 22nd, 1894, an oak coffin was exhumed on the occasion of the renovation of the church and the adjacent cemetery. There was no tombstone, but from the oral tradition of the grave site, from the fact that only 12 of 1,400 Leipzig deceased in 1750 were buried in an oak coffin, as well as from an expert report by the Leipzig anatomist Wilhelm His , the identity was inferred. The skeleton was buried in a simple stone sarcophagus under the altar of St. John's Church. After the destruction of the church and the surrounding cemetery in World War II , the sarcophagus was transferred to the choir of St. Thomas Church in 1950 on the 200th anniversary of death. Some modern musicologists, however, question the identity of the bones and demand a DNA comparison with the unequivocally preserved bones of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel; however, this has not yet taken place.

Overview: JS Bach's places of residence and travels

Residence of Johann Sebastian Bach

Place of residence

Travels by Johann Sebastian Bach
Travels from 1701 to 1721
Travels from 1723 to 1747

Musical creation

Beginning of the cello suite No. 1
The day is so joyful , BWV 605, from the little organ book , no later than 1713, obligatory pedal part in the second system, continuation at the lower edge as organ tablature
Now comes
Heyden Heyland , BWV 660a, filed in the Leipzig manuscript , but from the Weimar period, barely before 1714, the obligatory pedal part in its own third system

Bach - an autodidact in composing

Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach testifies that Bach regarded himself as an autodidact in composing. There were no certified composition lessons. The instruction from his brother in Ohrdruf “may well have been accused of an organist u. nothing more ”(C. Ph. E. Bach 1775). Even during Bach's several months' stay with Buxtehude, there is no evidence that he received composition lessons on this occasion. Forkel passed on Bach's statement: “I had to be hardworking; if you are just as hardworking, you will be able to go just as far. ”From his youth, Bach studied the works of various composers and learned from them by listening, reading, copying, transcribing , editing and imitating the music as well as by adopting compositional means, Forms and genera.

“The soulful has formed his taste through his own additives. [...] Already in his youth, mere reflection made him pure and healthy. strong airmen made. [...] By performing a great many strong pieces of music, [...] without a systematic study of phonurgy, he learned how to arrange the orchestra. "

- C. Ph. E. Bach : Nekrolog, 1754

In Bach's diverse work, influences from the music of central, northern and southern Germany or Austria as well as France and Italy meet, whereby regional traditions have influenced each other. The German traditions also contain Italian and French traditions and stylistic devices. Therefore, some compositions cannot be clearly assigned. Bach's transcriptions and acquisitions of works by other composers, Bach's transcriptions and arrangements (e.g. by Vivaldi), written and oral mentions by Bach and his circle, reports and reviews from the 18th century and style-critical investigations in musicology convey knowledge of the musical influences the works of Bach and his students.

Relationship to other composers

Bach treated other composing contemporaries with respect. Disparaging or disparaging remarks about other composers, such as those known from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , for example , have not been passed down from Bach (however, there are far fewer testimonies from Bach than from Mozart). He seems to have studied the works of other composers with an unbiased interest and to have respected them as fellow artists. This is supported by Bach's openness to suggestions from a wide variety of musical directions and his numerous arrangements of other works. Even in the years when he had long since developed his own tonal language, he still copied entire cantatas, for example by Telemann, in order to study them.

When Bach heard in 1719 that George Frideric Handel was in his native Halle , he immediately set off from Köthen to the city just a few miles away to meet his much more famous musician colleague of the same age. After his arrival, however, he found that Handel had already left for England. When Handel was again in Halle in 1729, Bach was sick and could not leave Leipzig. So he had his son Wilhelm Friedemann send an invitation to Handel. The meeting failed this time too, ultimately due to Handel's lack of interest.

In detail, it can be stated that Bach was familiar with the works of the following composers:

Some famous musicians, some of whom Bach knew personally, cannot be clearly assigned. They themselves had processed the most varied of music and influenced Bach with their works, such as Jan Dismas Zelenka , Johann Mattheson , Georg Philipp Telemann , Reinhard Keizer and Georg Friedrich Händel . It is not certain whether Bach also took up suggestions from his sons Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel , but it can be assumed. This suggests that some of the compositions by the two oldest Bach sons were considered works by their father and vice versa.

The compositions

The Bach Works Directory is a list of all of Bach's works .

During his work at the various places of activity, under the influence of the composers mentioned above, Bach gradually acquired a wide variety of genres, compositional styles and ways of making music. Some of Bach's travels were also aimed at this goal. With the exception of the opera , Bach composed works in all musical genres that were widespread at the time .

Vocal music

Autograph of the first page of the St. John Passion (BWV 245)

See also: Bach Cantatas and List of Bach Cantatas

Around 200 church cantatas by Bach have been preserved. In his cantatas and passions he often made use of popular chorals from the evangelical church hymn book. A large number of his works, especially those from his early creative period, are considered lost. According to Nekrolog, Bach composed five passions, but only the St. John and St. Matthew Passions have survived . A Markus Passion has been lost (the libretto of which has been preserved so that reconstructions have been attempted in some cases). There is a St. Luke Passion from around 1730 , which is partly written in Bach's handwriting. Today's musicology assumes that it is a copy of Bach's work by another composer. The fifth work is likely to be a single-choir variant of the St. Matthew Passion.

His vocal compositions also include secular cantatas (the best known are the Jagdkantata and the Kaffee-Cantata ), motets , several masses , a Magnificat, three oratorios , several Drammi per musica as well as chorales, arias and sacred songs.

Music for keyboard instruments

Bach's works for keyboard instruments are extensive . The dedicated organ works include preludes and fugues , fantasies , toccatas , the Passacaglia in C minor , a pastorella, trio sonatas , organ choirs, chorale preludes, choral arrangements, choral partits, chorale variations, concertos. The two- and three-part inventions and symphonies , suites , partitas , fantasies, overtures , themes with variations, preludes or fantasies with associated fugues, toccatas, sonatas are dedicated to the harpsichord (or clavichord) .

Instrumental music

Bach also created solo works for other instruments, such as three sonatas and partitas for violin and six suites for violoncello . Of music for solo lute suites, preludes and fugues have survived, as well as a solo suite for flute .

In the field of chamber music, Bach composed solo sonatas with basso continuo or obbligato harpsichord and a few trio sonatas, as well as a series of orchestral concerts for one to three solo instruments (including for harpsichord) and four orchestral suites .

Musical language and composition technique

Bach created groundbreaking things in many areas of music and contributed to the further development of musical forms and the musical language. Some of his works go far beyond the traditional canon of forms. Even his contemporaries considered him an important "harmonist", who exploited the possibilities of the major-minor tonality through the entire circle of fifths like no other before him. Probably inspired by the different temperaments of Andreas Werckmeister , Bach composed his Well-Tempered Clavier , the popularity of which later helped the well-tempered tuning to break through. Bach was concerned - as Kirnberger described it -, among other things, with depicting and teaching the variety of key-related affects that depend on the tempering .

Bach's works break new ground in harmony (e.g. chromatic fantasy and fugue ). He brought the contrapuntal technique of the composition and the technique of the fugue to masterful control (e.g. in the Well-Tempered Clavier I and II, and in the art of the fugue ). His polyphonic compositional technique was reflected in numerous instrumental and vocal works.

Instrument making and playing technique

Organ appraisals by JS Bach
year Place and church Organ builder
1703 New church in Arnstadt JF Wender
1706 Liebfrauenkirche Langewiesen J. Albrecht
1708 Blasiuskirche Mühlhausen JF Wender
1708/12 St. Vitus Church in Ammern JF Wender
1710 Ursulakirche Taubach HN Trebs
1712-14 Weimar Castle Church HN Trebs
1716 Liebfrauenkirche Halle C. Cuntzius
1716 Augustinian Church Erfurt GC Stertzing ,
JG Schröter
1717 Paulinerkirche Leipzig J. Disk
1723 Church in Störmthal Z. Hildebrandt
1724 Salvator Church Gera JG Fincke
1724 Laurentius Church in Stöntzsch JC Schmieder
1732 Martinskirche Kassel N. Becker
1735 Marienkirche Mühlhausen JF Wender
1737/38 St. Peter and Paul in Weißensee CW Shepherd
1739 Altenburg Castle Church THG consolation
circa 1742 St. Marien Bad Berka HN Trebs
1743 Johanniskirche Leipzig J. Disk
1743-46 Wenceslas Church Naumburg Z. Hildebrandt
1746 Nikolaikirche Zschortau J. Disk
1748 unknown C. Cuntzius

In addition to his impact as a musician and composer, Bach also had an influence on practice-related music theory , which was later recorded primarily in the writings of Johann Philipp Kirnberger . He mastered several instruments (organ, harpsichord, clavichord, violin, viola and possibly more) and knew their technical possibilities from personal experience.

Bach was also very interested in the technical aspects of instrument making and advocated the further and new development of musical instruments. This was aimed at expanding the compositional means. With the keyboard instruments he was particularly interested in new tonal developments. He dealt, for example, with their tempering, with organs with their sound disposition and mechanical qualities. One example is Bach's disposition for the new repair of the organ work ad D: Blasii (Mühlhausen 1708).

Bach had an excellent reputation as an organ expert. He was called in for numerous new and reconstructed organs: for example, in 1716 in Halle ( Cuntzius organ of the Liebfrauenkirche), 1717 in the Leipzig Paulinerkirche ( disc organ), 1723 in Störmthal ( Hildebrandt organ), 1724 in Gera ( Fincke organ of the Salvatorkirche ), 1739 Altenburg ( consolation organ of the castle church ), 1743 Johanniskirche Leipzig (disc organ), 1743–1746 Naumburg (Hildebrandt organ in the Wenceslas Church ) and others. He was personally known to important organ builders such as Gottfried Silbermann and respected as an organ specialist who was familiar with technical details. He supported Silbermann in the development of the pianoforte , which in Bach's later years, according to a report by his student Johann Friedrich Agricola , “received complete approval from him”.

In addition, Bach is often mentioned as a co-founder of the technique of playing with the thumb as a fully-fledged playing finger on keyboard instruments. This technique enabled a new virtuosity and an elegant polyphonic presentation. "He had come up with his own finger arrangement so that it was not difficult for him to bring out the greatest difficulties with the most fluid ease ... You ... know that it depends mainly on the use of the thumb".

Bach and the "musical science"

Bach increasingly saw himself as a music scholar who created works of musical science. In Bach's understanding, the core of musical science is the old Aristotelian principle of art as an imitation of nature. For Bach, art lies between the real world - nature - and God, who orders this real world. The musical harmony refers to the order of nature and its divine origin. The “dream of the unity of science” attracted Bach no less than the leading minds and thinkers of his time, and so he followed his own empirical path by bringing the “most hidden secrets of harmony into the most artificial exercise” and those known up to then The limits of composition and musical representation in terms of extent and detail were lifted and expanded.

In 1750, Bach's pupil Johann Friedrich Agricola drew a parallel between Bach and Newton in a letter in which he emphasized that Bach's music can best be appreciated by music connoisseurs, and said: “Not all scholars are able to understand a new tone; but those who have made it so far in the profound sciences that they can understand him, on the other hand, find all the greater pleasure and real benefit in reading his writings ”.

Relationship to religion

The title page of the “Calov Bible” with Bach's signature at the bottom right

Bach's music is now considered the culmination of Lutheran church music and the “musical expression of the Reformation”. In 1929 the Swedish Bishop Nathan Söderblom went so far as to call his music the “fifth gospel”.

Very few personal testimonies about his religious views have come down to us from Bach himself. Among the 52 theological books and edification writings in 81 volumes from his estate were the works of Martin Luther , the writings of Orthodox Lutheran theologians such as Abraham Calov (with Bach's handwritten notes), Johannes Olearius , Heinrich Müller , August Pfeiffer , Erdmann Neumeister , but also Writings of the Pietists Philipp Jacob Spener (Eyfer against the Papacy) and Johann Jakob Rambach (contemplation on the tears of Jesus) .

According to Bach, music had two essential purposes: "and like all music [...] Finis and End cause nothing else than just to God's honor and recreation of the mind", which is why many of his works are labeled " SDG " (Soli Deo Gloria, Latin for "God alone glory") signed. Bach justified his request for dismissal from service in Mühlhausen on June 26, 1708 with the reference to his "end purpose, namely a regulated church music in God's honor". He was finally able to realize this comprehensive Lutheran church music, which required a corresponding performance apparatus, in Leipzig with the composition of several complete years of cantatas.

The few written statements (mostly notes in his theological books) that have been preserved by Bach identify him as a devout Lutheran. However, there are some indications that his relationship to religion, in contrast to Leipzig's strict Lutheran orthodoxy, was not designed to be delimited. Even in Koethen he had a close personal relationship with his ducal employer, although he was a Calvinist . During his time in Leipzig he composed the Mass in B minor for the Catholic court in Dresden.

Bach's sacred vocal works show him to be an interpreter of the Bible: They are laid out as a “sounding sermon” (praedicatio sonora) and reflect a reflected theological interpretation. In this context, the theological Bach researcher Martin Petzoldt advocates a differentiated view, because the “interpreter of the Bible” found a “changed piety” “in his last decade at the latest”. This thesis makes both the choice of Bach's confessor Christoph Wolle , his good relationship with the Wolffian Lorenz Christoph Mizler and Bach's entry into his society (1747) understandable. As a result, Bach did not set himself apart from the most diverse representatives of the Enlightenment - the moderate wool and the more radical Mizler - but expressed his closeness to them. Bach's openness to the Enlightenment does not inevitably lead to a turning away from his previous piety. With this, Bach risked a conflict with his conservative theological superiors, e. B. with the Leipzig superintendent Salomon Deyling , because together with Heinrich Klausing he formed the "center of the phalanx of resolute opponents of all tendencies of modern philosophy". The symbol (creed of faith) "Christ coronabit crucigeros", deposited by Bach in the eventful year 1747, was interpreted both from the perspective of Lutheran orthodoxy and in connection with the above-mentioned events of that year or the intellectual-historical conflict area of ​​Leipzig in the 1740s.


During his lifetime

During his lifetime, Bach's compositional work received only limited attention compared, for example, to that of his contemporaries Georg Friedrich Handel or Georg Philipp Telemann . However, he was certainly not a “misunderstood genius”, but rather known to music connoisseurs like Johann Mattheson and Giovanni Battista Martini throughout Europe. After his death , a list of the "most famous German musicians" appeared in the same volume of Mizler's musical library , in which the necrology was also printed in 1754. The order chosen there is the following: 1. Hasse , 2. Handel, 3. Telemann, 4. the two Graun , 5. Stölzel , 6. Bach, 7. Pisendel, 8. Quantz and 9. Bümler . During his lifetime, Bach was known throughout Europe primarily as an organist and harpsichord virtuoso as well as a master of improvisation . The music critic Johann Adolf Scheibe wrote in 1737 about Bach's skills as a virtuoso:

“I have heard this great man play different times. One is astonished at his skill, and one can hardly understand how it is possible that he can put his fingers and feet so neatly and so nimbly into one another, stretch them and thus make the farthest jumps without mixing in a single wrong note or through one such violent movement to adjust the body. "

- JA disc : Der Critische Musicus, sixth piece, Hamburg, May 14, 1737

The universal scholar of the same age and Lutheran pastor of the wedding church of Bach in Dornheim , Johann Gottfried Gregorii alias Melissantes, counted Bach in 1744, just like Johann Georg Ahle or the Bach students Johann Heinrich Buttstett and Johann Ludwig Krebs, in a professional treatise among the best German organists.

Frederick the Great still remembered Bach's outstanding improvisational art well 27 years after his visit to Potsdam:

«Entre autres [Frédéric II] il me parla [de] musique, et d'un grand organiste nommé [Carl Philipp Emanuel] Bach, qui vient de faire quelque séjour à Berlin, cet artiste est doué d'un talent superieur à tout ce que j'ai entendu ou pu imaginer en profondeur de connoissances harmoniques et en force d'exécution; cependant ceux qui ont connu son Père ne trouvent pas encore qu'il l'egale, le Roi est de cette opinion et pour me le prouver il chanta à haute voix un sujet de Fugue chromatique, qu'il avoit donné à ce vieux Bach, qui sur le champ en fit une fugue à 4 puis à 5, puis enfin à huit voix obligés. »

“Among other things, [Friedrich II] spoke to me about music and a great organist named [Carl Philipp Emanuel] Bach, who has just been in Berlin. This artist is endowed with a talent that surpasses anything I have ever heard or imagined in terms of depth, understanding of harmony and strength of musical execution. Nevertheless, those who knew his father think that his son could not have followed suit; the king agreed and to prove it he sang to me in a powerful voice a theme of a chromatic fugue that he had given the old Bach, whereupon he experienced a fugue of 4, then 5 and finally eight like this from the standing position [ !] obbligato voices improvised over it. "

- Gottfried van Swieten (Austrian envoy in Berlin) : Letter to Count Kaunitz of July 26, 1774

Johann Gottfried Walther , who was a friend of Bach, describes Bach's previous professional career very precisely in his Musicalischen Lexicon from 1732, but restricts himself to the excellent piano items published in copper in 1731 , namely the six partitas .

Handed down by sons and students

After Bach's death there was initially little desire to continue performing his works. At that time it was also unusual, as is the case in today's concert scene, to publicly perform works by long-dead composers of the past in concerts. The musical taste in the time after Bach longed for a "natural" and "sensitive" style of music . Bach's music was often perceived as artificial and unnatural. In the words of the disc already quoted:

“This great man would be the admiration of whole nations if he had more comfort and if he did not withdraw the natural from his pieces with a pompous and confused being and obscure their beauty with too great art. Because he judges by his fingers, his pieces are extremely difficult to play; for he demands the singers and instrumentalists should do with their throats and instruments what he can play on the piano. But this is impossible. [...] one admires [...] the arduous work and an extraordinary effort, which is applied in vain because it fights against reason. "

- JA disc : Der Critische Musicus, sixth piece, Hamburg, May 14, 1737

Most of the Thomaskantors at the end of the 18th century paid little attention to the performance and preservation of the compositions of their predecessors. Apart from a few music lovers, Bach was remembered above all by his sons, whom he taught and who had become composers themselves. However, they went their own way.

Another son, Johann Gottfried Bernhard Bach , mostly worried the father. At the age of 23 he suddenly disappeared from his position as organist in Sangerhausen , leaving behind a mountain of debt, and died just one year later in Jena in 1739 of a “hot fever”.

During his entire creative period, Bach worked as an instrumental and composition teacher, a total of 81 students can be proven. The pupils lived in the family's household, often for a long time, and later held important positions as Kapellmeister and Cantor. It was they who, along with his sons, kept Bach's name and musical legacy alive in the second half of the 18th century. Well-known students of Bach were Johann Ludwig Krebs and Johann Philipp Kirnberger , who passed on Bach's composition theory and well -tempered mood . As a result, a number of Bach's compositions became textbooks for later composers, such as the young Ludwig van Beethoven , but were hardly performed publicly in the first eighty years after Bach's death.

Influence on the Viennese classics

Haydn and Mozart initially meant Carl Philipp Emanuel when they spoke of Bach; he gave them, especially Haydn, decisive suggestions for their own style. Mozart was also influenced by the music of Johann Christian Bach, whom he met in 1764/65 on a concert tour as a “child prodigy” in London. Johann Sebastian Bach only became aware of them late.

From April 1782 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart got to know works by Handel and Bach in Gottfried van Swieten's house . Mozart primarily studied Bach's piano fugues and systematically acquired their compositional techniques.

"I go to the Baron van Swieten every Sunday at 12 o'clock and nothing is played but Handel and Bach - I just make a collection of the Bachian fugues - both Sebastian as Emanuel and Friedemann Bach [...] Then also by the Händlischen."

- WA Mozart : Letter from Vienna to his father Leopold Mozart in Salzburg on April 10, 1782

In 1789, while visiting the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Mozart heard Bach's motet “Singet dem Herrn a new song” (BWV 225). Exceptionally impressed, he immersed himself in these and other scores of Bach. The traces of this encounter are a spontaneously composed gigue and increasingly polyphonic typesetting in Mozart's later work.

Ludwig van Beethoven studied piano works by JS Bach as a child. His Bonn teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe wrote about him in Cramer's Magazin der Musik in 1783 : “He plays the piano very well and with strength, reads very well, and to sum it all up: He mostly plays the well-tempered piano by Sebastian Bach ". After Beethoven came to Vienna in 1792 at the age of 22, he continued to study Bach's works. In the salon of the aforementioned Baron von Swieten, he regularly played a wide variety of Bach compositions:

“The musical delights in van Swieten's house, where preferably music by Haendel, Seb. Bach and the great masters of Italy, up to Palestrina, were performed with a strong cast, were exquisite [...] For Beethoven, those meetings had the special feature that he not only became acquainted with those classics, but also that he always did had to endure the longest, because the old gentleman was an insatiable musical star [...] because Beethoven had to perform half a dozen fugues by Bach "for the evening blessing" on everything he had heard beforehand. "

- Anton Schindler : biography of Ludwig van Beethoven, Münster, 1840

Beethoven dealt with Bach's polyphonic techniques and forms, especially in his later works. B. in the piano sonata op.110 and in the Diabelli Variations as well as in his string quartets op.127 , op.130 , op.131 , op.132 and op.133 ( large fugue ) . A relationship between some of Beethoven's works and Bach's music is unmistakable, for example the theme of Arioso Dolente from Sonata op. 110 is clearly borrowed from an altarie from Bach's St. John Passion.

Bach renaissance in the 19th century

The first significant turning point in the perception and appreciation of Bach's work is the Bach biography of Johann Nikolaus Forkel (1749–1818). Forkel was the university music director in Göttingen and also a music historian. He had known the two Bach sons CP Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann personally and obtained a substantial part of his information from them. In the preface to the biography published in 1802, he appealed to the national spirit:

"Preserving the memory of this great man is not just a matter of art, it is a national matter."

- JN Forkel : About Johann Sebastian Bach's life, art and works of art

In the final sentence of his biography, Forkel enthusiastically describes Bach as "the greatest musical poet and the greatest musical declamator that there has ever been and that there probably will ever be".

The credit to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy , who was then only 20 and a student of Carl Friedrich Zelter , was due to have brought Johann Sebastian Bach back to the general public almost eighty years after his death - with the revival of the St. Matthew Passion in a shortened version on March 11, 1829 with the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, founded in 1791 . He came before the earlier planned performance by his friend Johann Nepomuk Schelble with his Cäcilienchor in Frankfurt, gave an enormous boost to the publicity of Bach's music and initiated the Bach renaissance . The generation of romantic composers born around 1810 experienced Bach's compositions as poetic music and used them as models in a variety of ways. For Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847), Robert Schumann (1810–1856) and Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849), and even for Franz Liszt (1811–1886), Bach's works were an important prerequisite for their own work. It was Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Chopin and Liszt - along with Adolf Henselt , Ferdinand von Hiller , Ignaz Moscheles , Clara Schumann , Sigismund Thalberg and many Liszt students - who included Bach's piano works in their concert programs. The Concerto for Three Pianos in D minor (BWV 1063) and the Solo Concerto in D minor (BWV 1052) were particularly popular and introduced the bourgeois concert audience to Bach's instrumental works. All of this, of course, was far from historical performance practice. The Musical Times wrote in an obituary for Mendelssohn in January 1848:

“Never shall we forget the triumphant cadence with which he concluded Bach's concerto for three harpsichords, following Moscheles and Thalberg. He alone knew the style: it was the pedal solo of an organ fugue in double octaves. What gigantic power he put into these things! The beauty of the exhibition, and, indeed, of the numerous demonstrations made by Mendelssohn in honor of Bach, was that he announced himself the disciple of a master contemned by ignorance and prejudice. "

“We will never forget the triumphant cadenza with which he ended Bach's Concerto for three harpsichords following Moscheles and Thalberg. He alone mastered this style: it was the pedal solo of an organ fugue in double octaves. What tremendous power he put into it! The beauty of the performance, and so also of the many explanations by Mendelssohn in honor of Bach, showed that he saw himself as the student of a master who was long disregarded for ignorance and prejudice. "

- The Musical Times, January 1848

Schumann wrote about the performance of the St. John Passion in Düsseldorf:

"For the sake of the importance of the work we performed yesterday, a treasure that has been buried for over a hundred years, it would be desirable that it became known to wider circles. [...] I would also like to contribute that the attention of the German art world would be drawn to this one of the most profound and perfect works of Bach ... "

- Robert Schumann : Letter to Wolfgang Müller von Königswinter, Düsseldorf, April 14, 1851

After all, from the mid-19th century onwards, the public was more familiar with Bach's instrumental music than with the sacred works, including the Passions. In 1850, with the participation of Schumann, Liszt, Ignaz Moscheles , Louis Spohr , Otto Jahn , Carl von Winterfeld , Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn , Carl Ferdinand Becker and the Thomaskantor Moritz Hauptmann , the Bach Society was founded in Leipzig To publish works of Bach in a complete edition. Also Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), whose musical historicism was based on JS Bach, was instrumental in this first complete edition of Bach's works. With the completion of this task in 1900, the Bach Society dissolved again in accordance with its statutes, and at the same time, on the initiative of Hermann Kretzschmar and with the participation of Oskar von Hase , Martin Blumner , Siegfried Ochs , Joseph Joachim , Franz Wüllner and the Thomaskantor Gustav Schreck, the New Bach Society .

20th and 21st centuries

Only in the 20th century did Bach's compositions experience systematic maintenance in public music life and in musicology .

Jacques Loussier became known through modern interpretations of Bach's works with his Play Bach Trio.

Bach's works have increasingly been the subject of historical performance practice since the 1970s . It has given many performers and listeners a new approach to his music. Wanda Landowska made a start in 1903 with her first public harpsichord recital and paved the way for the "original sound" with her first recordings in 1923 and the establishment of the École de Musique Ancienne in 1925. But Bach is also played on modern instruments. Canadian pianist Glenn Gould's recordings on a modern grand piano , which are characterized by their clarity and deep understanding of counterpoint, are considered milestones in Bach's interpretation.

In the 20th century, Bach's work also experienced a number of popular adaptations. Many of them are trivial and only quoting, but there have also been more serious approaches - such as by Jacques Loussier with his project Play Bach , by Ward Swingle with his Swingle Singers, and by Walter Carlos , who opened up a new sonic perspective with his Moog synthesizer Bach's factory opened. Jazz musicians in particular have repeatedly found inspiration in Bach's concertante polyphony and in his fugue technique, such as Nina Simone , Dave Brubeck or Keith Jarrett . Borrowings and influences from Bach can also be found in pop and rock music (such as Deep Purple and Ritchie Blackmore , The Nice and Ekseption ). The spectrum ranges from inspirations without precisely tangible references (such as in Paul McCartney's song Blackbird , which differs from Bach 's Bourrée in E minor BV 996 in terms of time, key and melody) to deliberate deconstructions (such as François Sarhan's alienating arrangement of Bach Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 846 ). While a compositional style is only imitated in the paraphrase (such as Bach's Air BWV 1068 in A Whiter Shade of Pale by the British band Procol Harum ), the quotation is a literal adoption and aimed at recognizing the original and its surroundings (as with numerous Bach quotations the band The Nice). On the other hand, adaptations are based on shortened arrangements of the original (such as Jethro Tull's newly instrumented arrangement of Bach's Bourrée).

Numerous Bach references can also be found in contemporary art music. In his Violin Concerto (1935), Alban Berg gave the chorale quotation “Es ist Enough” (from the cantata O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort , BWV 60) central importance. More recently, Klaus Huber has added a passage to his composition Senfkorn (1975) Bass aria "Es ist vollbracht" (from cantata BWV 159) is the basis. Isang Yun took up the theme of the Musical Offering in the solo violin work Königliches Thema (1976), as did Jürg Baur in Counterpoints 77 . Edison Denissow composed variations on “It is enough” in 1984 (ensemble version 1986). Meditations on the Bach chorale “Before your throne I step hereby” (BWV 668) created Sofia Gubaidulina in 1993. Reinhard Wolschina provided his moments of silence (2000) with the subtitle five postludies for JSB Auf Bach's C minor Passacaglia BWV 582 reflected Jörg-Peter Mittmann in his work Passacaglia (2006). In … mit Bach (2002) the same composer unfolds a sound surface over the chorale “ Jesus remains my joy ” (BWV 147).

The BACH motif alone , which Bach himself woven into the last piece of his art of fugue , was taken up by more than 300 composers, for example by Hanns Eisler in Prelude and Fugue on BACH (1934). Arvo Pärt wrote a collage about BACH (1964), which he later expanded into the Concerto Piccolo about BACH (1994). In Vagues (Hommage à JS Bach) (2006), Jean-Luc Darbellay alludes to Beethoven's saying “Not Bach, it should be called the sea” and also draws on the BACH motif.

The Bachianas brasileiras (1930–1945) by Heitor Villa-Lobos do not form a Bach reference in the narrower sense .


Bach in the Subways 2015 in Leipzig
Memorial days
Monuments and plaques
The Bachhaus in Eisenach now serves as a museum, but it is not Bach's birthplace
The old Bach monument in Leipzig from 1843, donated by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Numerous monuments were erected in honor of Bach, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These include:

Music festivals

In honor of the composer, music festivals are held at various places where Bach and other cultural centers were active. The Leipzig Bach Festival has been held since 1908. Every two years in Köthen Köthener Bach festivals as part of the Music Festivals Saxony-Anhalt organized. The Thuringian Bach Weeks are the largest classical music festival in Thuringia. The Bach Week Ansbach has been taking place since 1947 . The Frankfurt Bach Concerts were launched in 1961 and the Würzburg Bach Days in 1969.

The Bach asteroids

As a special form of honor, the naming of newly discovered celestial bodies after personalities from history has been in use for over 100 years. Nine planetoids in the asteroid belt of the sun have already been named after Johann Sebastian Bach , and the most important places of action have also been taken into account. The planetoid No. 1814 (1931 TW 1 ) discovered by K. Reinmuth in 1931 bears the official name Bach .

Postage stamps and coins

Bach and his works are featured on numerous German and foreign stamps and coins.



For a bibliography that strives for completeness see Yo Tomita's "Bach Bibliography"

Newer literature
Older literature
Individual representations
  • Ludwig Prautzsch: Johann Sebastian Bach's hidden symbolic language . Volume 1: Alphabet of symbols and numbers in church music . Merseburger, Kassel 2004, ISBN 3-87537-298-0 .
  • Gottfried Scholz : Bach's Passions. A musical factory guide . Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-43305-7 .
  • Heinz Stade, Thomas Bickelhaupt: On the way to Bach. Weimarer Taschenbuch Verlag, Weimar 2006, ISBN 978-3-937939-67-4 .
  • Gustav Adolf Theill: Contributions to the symbolic language of Johann Sebastian Bach's
    volume 1: The symbolism of singing voices . Bonn 1983, ISBN 3-922173-01-2 .
    Volume 2: The symbolism of musical instruments . Bonn 1983, ISBN 3-922173-02-0 .
  • Helmut Zeraschi: Bach and the oculist Taylor. In: Bach Yearbook , 43rd year, 1956, pp. 52–64.
  • Peter Zimmerling : Evangelical mysticism . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2015, ISBN 978-3-525-57041-8 . Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750): Mystik und Musik , pp. 83–111
Edited original sources
  • Bach documents, published by the Leipzig Bach Archive and Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel and Leipzig 1963–2008.
    Volume 1: Documents by JS Bach. ISBN 978-3-7618-0025-6 .
    Volume 2: Foreign-written and printed documents on the life story of JS Bach. ISBN 978-3-7618-0026-3 .
    Volume 3: Documents on the aftermath of JS Bach 1750–1800. ISBN 978-3-7618-0249-6 .
    Volume 4: Photo documents on the life story of JS Bach. ISBN 978-3-7618-0250-2 .
    Volume 5: Documents on life, work, aftermath, 1685–1800: New documents, supplements and corrections to Volume I – III. ISBN 978-3-7618-1867-1 .
    Volume 6: Selected documents on the aftermath of Johann Sebastian Bach. ISBN 978-3-7618-1924-1 .
    Volume 7: Johann Nikolaus Forkel: About Johann Sebastian Bach's life, art and works of art. ISBN 978-3-7618-1925-8 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Johann Sebastian Bach  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Johann Sebastian Bach  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Johann Sebastian Bach on postage stamps  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Johann Sebastian Bach  - Sources and full texts
Literature, biography, institutions
Sound document
Free sheet music and texts
u. a. all works in the edition of the Bach Society (1851–1899) as a single PDF
Interactive media


  1. The painting hung in the Thomas School for many decades. In the second half of the 19th century it was “freshened up” and repainted several times, with part of the original expression being lost or blurred. In 1913 the original came to the Leipzig City History Museum , where attempts were made to remove the overpainting as best as possible. A copy of the picture from 1746 made by Haußmann himself in 1748 was initially in the possession of CPE Bach, was then considered lost for a long time and was acquired in 1952 by William H. Scheide (Princeton, New Jersey), who bought the picture after his death in 2014 bequeathed to the Leipzig Bach Archive in his will .
    The two Haußmann pictures are the only pictures in which Bach's identity is clearly established; in all other portraits that are ascribed to Bach, the assignment is uncertain. See also The Face Of Bach . Bach's identity is secured in the Haußmann paintings because he is holding his own composition in his hand, the canon triplex a 6 voci (six-part triple canon, BWV 1087), an artful canonical variation on the theme of the arias Goldberg Variations. See .
  2. Peter Watson: The German Genius. A spiritual and cultural history from Bach to Benedict XVI. Bertelsmann, Munich 2010, p. 169.
  3. אינטרמצו עם אריק - שיף על באך András Schiff on Bach , interview with Andras Schiff (English, YouTube video)
  4. Malte Korff: Johann Sebastian Bach . dtv, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-423-31030-8 , p. 7.
  5. Christoph Wolff u. a .: The New Grove Bach Family . WW Norton, New York, 1997, ISBN 0-393-01684-6 , p. 22.
  6. a b c C. Wolff, chapter on parental home, town, farm and school: the musical environment .
  7. C. Wolff, chapter Ambrosius Bach and his family .
  8. Duden - The large first name dictionary, by Rosa and Volker Kohlheim. 5th edition 2016, keyword Johann
  9. Malte Korff: Johann Sebastian Bach . dtv, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-423-31030-8 , p. 9.
  10. Arno Forchert: Johann Sebastian Bach and his time . Laaber-Verlag , Laaber 2002, ISBN 3-89007-531-2 , p. 54.
  11. a b c d e The Nekrolog auf Johann Sebastian Bach was published in 1754 by Lorenz Christoph Mizler in: Musikalische Bibliothek or Thorough Message along with impartial judgment on musical writings and books . Volume IV, Part 1, pp. 158-173, Textarchiv - Internet Archive . Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Friedrich Agricola and Lorenz Christoph Mizler were named as authors. It can also be found in Bach Documents III, No. 666, pp. 80–93.
  12. C. Wolff, chapter In the care of the older brother .
  13. See Heinrich Deppert: Studies on the early work of Johann Sebastian Bach . Dr. Hans Schneider Verlag, Tutzing 2009, ISBN 978-3-7952-1274-2 .
  14. See Peter Schiffer: Der Öhringer Bach: At the Uncle Johann Sebastian in Leipzig ; Article at the Baden-Württemberg State Archive from August 4, 2007.
  15. C. Wolff, chapter Böhm, Reincken and the Celler Hofkapelle .
  16. ^ Gustav Fock : The young Bach in Lüneburg, 1700–1702. Merseburger, Hamburg 1950.
  17. C. Wolff, chapter First explorations in Thuringia .
  18. ^ Michael Meißner: Johann Sebastian Bach's Mühlhausen time (1707–1708) . In: Mühlhausen museums (ed.): Mühlhäuser contributions . Special issue 12. Printing and publishing house Mühlhausen, Mühlhausen 2000, p. 72 .
  19. Conflicts previously suspected with the predominantly Lutheran- Pietist clergy in Mühlhausen are no longer represented by today's Bach research; see C. Wolff, chapter An Divi Blasii zu Mühlhausen .
  20. From a protocol note from the court: “On November 6, the previous concert master u. Court organist, Bach, because of his stubborn testimony a. dimission to be enforced, arrêtiert in the LandRichter-Stube, u. finally d. December 2 thereupon, with indicated disgrace, Ihme the dimission by the court secretary: indicated, u. at the same time released from arrest ”. According to Werner Neumann, Hans-Joachim Schulze (Ed.): External and printed documents on the life story of Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685–1750, Critical Complete Edition , Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1969 (Bach Documents II, No. 84), p. 65.
  21. Arno Forchert: Johann Sebastian Bach and his time . Laaber-Verlag, Laaber 2002, p. 82.
  22. C. Wolff, chapter under princely patronage
  23. See e.g. B. Maarten 't Hart: Bach and I , chapter "Doze asleep, you dull eyes" - Bach and death .
  24. In Bach's letter of October 28, 1730 to his school friend Georg Erdmann it says:
    “But it had to happen that the serenissimus mentioned married a Berenburg princess, because it wanted to gain the reputation as if the musical inclination was in the aforementioned Princes wanted to be in a little green light, especially since the new princess seemed to be an amusa: "
  25. Erdmannbrief, here after Wolfgang Hildesheimer: The distant brook . 2nd Edition. Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1985 ( Insel-Bücherei 1025/2), p. 47 ff.
  26. ^ Albert Schweitzer: Johann Sebastian Bach , 1908. Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig 1952, p. 121.
  27. ^ Aloys Henning (1998), p. 239 f.
  28. ^ Aloys Henning: The oculists Joseph Hillmer and John Taylor in Leipzig. In: Akt. Augenheilkunde 17, 1992, pp. 204-214.
  29. ↑ It is unclear whether - as Taylor's attempts at surgery indicate - a black star or a cataract , a glaucoma and / or another eye disease was the cause.
  30. Karl A. Baer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) in Medical History . In: Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. Vol. 39 (3), 1951, pp. 206-211, PMID 14848627 , PMC 195117 (free full text).
  31. ^ Aloys Henning: On the eye operations on the cantor and on the archdeacon of St. Thomas in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach and Christoph Wolle. In: Würzburger medical history reports 17, 1998, pp. 227–250; especially pp. 238–242 ( Johann Sebastian Bach's Staroperationen ).
  32. Detlef Kranemann: Johann Sebastian Bach's illness and cause of death - attempt at an interpretation. In: Hans-Joachim Schulze, Christoph Wolff (eds.): Bach-Jahrbuch 76 , Berlin 1990, pp. 53–64.
  33. ^ Aloys Henning (1998), p. 227.
  34. ^ Richard HC Zegers: The Eyes of Johann Sebastian Bach . In: Arch Ophthalmol. Vol. 123, 2005, pp. 1427-1430 ( online ).
  35. ^ Hermann Kock, R. Siegel: Genealogical Lexicon of the Bach Family . Wechmar 1995, ISBN 3-931182-01-0 .
  36. a b C. Wolff, chapter past, present and future: the end
  37. ^ Karl A. Baer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) in medical history . In: Bulletin of the Medical Library Association . tape 39 , no. 3 , 1951, ISSN  0025-7338 , pp. 206-211 , PMC 195117 (free full text).
  38. ^ R. Shane Tubbs, Marios Loukas, Mohammadali M. Shoja, Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol: Wilhelm His (1831-1904) and his contributions to neuroanatomy . In: Child's Nervous System: ChNS: Official Journal of the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery . tape 25 , no. 12 , 2009, ISSN  1433-0350 , p. 1613-1615 , doi : 10.1007 / s00381-009-0994-4 , PMID 19763585 .
  39. Richard HC Zegers, Mario Maas A. (sound) G. Koopman , George JR Maat: Are the alleged remains of Johann Sebastian Bach authentic? In: The Medical Journal of Australia. Vol. 190 (4), 2009, pp. 213-216, PMID 19220191 , (PDF; 266 kB) accessed on December 10, 2013.
  40. ^ Johann Nikolaus Forkel: About Johann Sebastian Bach's life, art and works of art. For patriotic admirers of real musical art . Leipzig 1802,
  41. C. Wolff, Chapter Materials and Metaphysics .
  42. JS Bach valued his uncle Johann Christoph Bach, who was the town organist and court harpsichordist in Eisenach, and referred to him in the family genealogy as a “profound composer”. He is also praised by CPE Bach in the necrology. See C. Wolff, chapter on parental home, town, courtyard, school and church: the musical environment .
  43. Pachelbel was friends with Bach's father Ambrosius and was the teacher of his son Johann Christoph Bach, who in turn taught Johann Sebastian in Ohrdruf, see C. Wolff, chapter on parental home, town, courtyard, school and church: the musical environment .
  44. The Trio BWV 1025 is an arrangement of a lute suite by Weiss.
  45. a b c In a letter from CPE Bach to Forkel (Bach Documents III, No. 803, pp. 288–290) it is said that his father had the works of Frescobaldi, the Baden Capellmeister, “besides Frobergern, Kerl u Pachhelbel” Fischer, Strungk “loved u. studied ".
  46. ^ The organ fugue BWV 579 is an arrangement of a work by Corelli.
  47. The organ fugue BWV 574b is an arrangement of a work by Lenzei.
  48. BWV 1081 is an adaptation from a mass by Bassani.
  49. BWV 974 is an arrangement of Marcello's Concerto for oboe and orchestra .
  50. The harpsichord joints BWV 946, 950 and 951 are adaptations of Albinoni's Opus 1 from the year 1694th
  51. a b Various works by Porpora and Locatelli were part of the performance repertoire of the Collegium musicum in Leipzig, see C. Wolff, chapter materials and metaphysics .
  52. The setting of Psalm 51 (BWV 1083 “ Tilge, Höchst, Meine Sünden ”) is essentially an arrangement of Pergolesi's Stabat mater in F minor from 1736.
  53. ^ BWV 1082 is an adaptation of Caldaras Suscepit Israel .
  54. See for example: Johann Sebastian Bach, Complete Piano Works in 13 Volumes. Koenemann Music Budapest.
  55. There have been doubts for a long time whether Bach's lute works were all intended for one lute or rather for a so-called lute work or lute piano, which it can be shown that he had built in 1740. Another reason is u. a. the “unplayability” of the Suite in E minor BWV 996. See: Walter Kolneder : Article Lautenwerke. In: Lübbes Bach Lexicon. Bastei Lübbe Bergisch Gladbach, 1982, pp. 177-178.
  56. ^ After C. Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach , chapter "Clavier-Virtuose und Orgel-Expert", S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt, 2000 edition, p. 158 (references to the individual organs can be found there)
  57. ^ C. Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach. Table 5.3: Bach's organ projects and reports.
  58. According to Agricola's report: “Herr Gottfr. Silbermann made these instruments in the beginning of two. Blessed Kapellm had one of them. Mr. Joh. Sebastian Bach seen and recorded. He had praised the sound of it, even admired it: but rebuked it because it was too weak in the heights and even too difficult to play. This had Mr. Silbermann, who could not be criticized for his work, received a very bad reception. He was therefore angry with Mr. Bach for a long time. And yet his conscience told him that Mr. Bach was not wrong. So he thought, and that was said for his great glory, that he would not spend any more on these instruments for the best; On the other hand, however, the more diligent to think of improving the mistakes noted by Mr. JS Bach. […] Mr. Silbermann had also had the laudable ambition to show one of these instruments, his newer work, to the blessed Mr. Kapellmeister Bach and to have it examined by him; and, on the other hand, obtained complete approval from him. ”Bach Documents Volume III, No. 743.
  59. From: Johann Adam Hiller : My Life ; Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach : Attempt on the true way of playing the piano .
  60. C. Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach , p. 6.
  61. Birger Petersen-Mikkelsen: Praedicatio sonora. Music and theology with Johann Sebastian Bach. In: Church music and proclamation - proclamation as church music. On the relationship between theology and church music. (Eutin contributions to music research, Volume 4.) Self-published, Eutin 2003, ISBN 3-8311-4465-6 , pp. 45–60: p. 47 with note 5.
  62. Hans Besch: Johann Sebastian Bach: Piety and Faith. Bertelsmann, Gütersloh 1938.
  63. ^ Robin A. Leaver: Bach's theological library . Hänssler, Neuhausen-Stuttgart 1983. The entire estate and its distribution among the heirs is listed in the appendix to Philipp Spitta's Bach biography (accessed January 13, 2013). The non-theological books, e.g. B. on music theory, as well as the works of classical authors had obviously already been distributed to the sons before Bach's death, so that they do not appear in the estate, as well as the entire compositions.
  64. Hans Preuss: Bach's library. In: Festgabe für Th. Zahn. Deichert, Leipzig 1928, pp. 116–140, Textarchiv - Internet Archive . Thomas Wilhelmi: Bach's library. A continuation of the work of Hans Preuss. In: Bach yearbook . Vol. 65, 1979, pp. 107-129. See also Martin Petzold: Between Orthodoxy, Pietism and Enlightenment - Reflections on Johann Sebastian Bach's theological-historical context. In: Reinhard Szeskus (ed.): Bach and the Enlightenment . Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1982, pp. 66-107.
  65. JS Bach: Rules and principles for four-part playing of the general bass or accompaniment for his scholars in music . 1738. Quoted by Philipp Spitta: Johann Sebastian Bach . Retrieved March 20, 2010.
  66. Werner Neumann, Hans-Joachim Schulze (Ed.): Documents from the hand of Johann Sebastian Bach . Bärenreiter, Kassel u. a. 1963, No. 1, pp. 19-21 (Bach documents, volume 1).
  67. Johan Bouman: Music for the Glory of God. Music as a gift from God and proclamation of the Gospel with Johann Sebastian Bach . 2nd Edition. Brunnen, Giessen 2000, ISBN 3-7655-1201-X , p. 29.
  68. Martin Petzoldt: Bach as interpreter of the Bible. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, ISBN 3-525-57179-8 , p. 109 ( online ). Whether a differentiated picture of Bach's relationship to complex theological and philosophical questions or to his personal beliefs can actually be drawn from the few available testimonies must be doubted. In addition, it is very unlikely that Bach took unchanged positions in his spiritual development from his earliest youth to the last decade of his life - especially under the increasing influence of the Enlightenment on the intellectual climate of Leipzig. Petzoldt warns against blanket judgments: “Bach as a Christian, Bach in worship, doing his job. But then the disillusionment follows: the overall picture [Bach] remains hidden, hidden from my view, like the picture in the window behind the pillar. "Petzoldt correctly writes in the same place:" Many people know my Bach exactly. " Johann Sebastian Bach. Glory be sung to you to God. Pictures and texts on Bach's life as a Christian and his work for the church. Göttingen 1988, ISBN 3-525-57182-8 , p. 6.
  69. On wool see Martin Petzoldt: Christian Weise d. Ä. and Christoph Wolle - two of Bach's confessors from Leipzig, representatives of two interpretative historical sections of the outgoing Lutheran orthodoxy. In: Martin Petzoldt: Bach as interpreter of the Bible. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, ISBN 3-525-57179-8 , pp. 109-130 ( online ). Mizler spoke of the Capellmeister Bach, "whom I have the honor of counting among my good friends and patrons" ( Musikalische Bibliothek , I.4 [1738], p. 61, ). See also Lutz Felbick : Lorenz Christoph Mizler de Kolof - student of Bach and Pythagorean "Apostle of Wolffian Philosophy". Georg-Olms-Verlag, Hildesheim 2012, ISBN 978-3-487-14675-1 (University of Music and Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" Leipzig - Writings; 5), p. 435 f.
  70. Detlef Döring : The Philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and the Leipzig Enlightenment in the first half of the 18th century (= Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig, Philological-Historical Class, Volume 75, Issue 4), Leipzig 1999, p. 48. This problem becomes understandable in the context of the sometimes fierce Leipzig disputes between the Wolffians and the so-called anti-Wolffians. See Detlef Döring: Wolffianism in Leipzig: Followers and opponents . In: Hans-Martin Gerlach (ed.): Christian Wolff: his school and his opponents (= Enlightenment 12, 2), Hamburg 2001, pp. 51–76.
  71. Bach wrote this confession that Christ would crown the bearers of the cross as a supplement to his canon dedication ( BWV 1077 ) in Johann Gottfried Fulde's family book . For the first interpretation of Bach's symbol, see Heinrich Poos: Christ Coronabit Crucigeros - Hermeneutic attempt on a canon by Johann Sebastian Bach , in: Theological Bach Studies II (= contributions to theological Bach research 4), ed. by Walter Blankenburg and Renate Steiger, Neuhausen-Stuttgart 1986, pp. 67–97. For the criticism of this interpretation and the other understanding, see Lutz Felbick: Lorenz Christoph Mizler de Kolof - student of Bach and Pythagorean "Apostle of Wolffian Philosophy". Georg-Olms-Verlag, Hildesheim 2012, ISBN 978-3-487-14675-1 (University of Music and Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" Leipzig - Writings; 5), pp. 54 ff. And 438 ff.
  72. Johann Mattheson : Das Schutz Orchester , 1717: “I have seen things from the famous organist in Weimar, Mr. Joh. Sebastian Bach, before the church (cantatas) than before the Faust (organ compositions) that are certainly made in such a way that one can Man high æstimiren must. ”Quoted from: About Bach. Anthology ; Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun., 1992; P. 17.
  73. ^ Letter from Giovanni Battista Martini , dated April 14, 1750, 3 months before Bach's death: "I think it superfluous to want to describe the special merit of Mr. Bach, because he was too much not only in Germany but also in all of Italy is known and admired, I only say that I find it difficult to find a teacher who surpasses him, because today he can rightly boast of being one of the first to exist in Europe. ”From: About Brook. Anthology . Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1992. p. 23.
  74. Musikalische Bibliothek , Volume 4, Part 1, 1754; quoted from Albert Schweitzer: Johann Sebastian Bach , 1908, Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig 1952, p. 198.
  75. a b Johann Adolph Scheibe: Der critische Musicus. Volume 1. Beneke, Hamburg 1737,
  76. Melissantes: Gemüths entertaining historical handbook for citizens and farmers ... , Leipzig, Frankfurt [and Arnstadt] 1744, pp. 756/757 f.
  77. Quoted from Bach Documents III, No. 790, p. 276, also printed in Alfred Einstein : Mozart. His character, his work , chapter "Mozart and the counterpoint" , p. 182.
  78. Johann Friedrich Reichardt : Musikalisches Kunstmagazin , 1782: “Never has a composer, even the best, deepest Italian, none of them exhausted all the possibilities of our harmony as Johann Sebastian Bach. Almost no accusation is possible that he has not applied; all genuine harmonic art and all fake harmonic artistry he has seriously and jokingly applied a thousand times with such boldness and peculiarity that the greatest harmonist can complete a missing thematic measure in one of his greatest works should, could not quite stand for having really completed it as completely as Bach had it. ”From: About Bach. Anthology . Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1992, p. 41.
  79. ^ So Ernst Ludwig Gerber and Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, but the student body is considered dubious.
  80. Joseph Haydn (1799): “Even less have found it wrong that Joh. Seb. Bach is the center of the sun, consequently the man from whom all true musical wisdom emanates. ”From: Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach . Fischer-Verlag, 2007, p. 10.
  81. ^ Joseph Müller-Blattau : Mozart: Life - Letters - Works . Langewiesche, Königstein 1957 (Langewiesche Bücherei 234).
  82. ^ Anton Schindler: Biography of Ludwig van Beethoven (Google full text), Münster, Aschendorff'sche Buchhandlung, 1840 pp. 25/26
  83. ^ Andras Schiff: the lectures | Music This connection was propagated by András Schiff in his lectures.
  84. ^ Johann Nikolaus Forkel: About Johann Sebastian Bach's life, art and works of art. For patriotic admirers of real musical art . Leipzig 1802, Retrieved September 13, 2019 .
  85. ^ The Late Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in: The Musical Times , No. 44/2, 1848, p. 154.
  86. Matthias Wendt, Düsseldorf: Bach and Handel at Robert Schumann's reception , lecture given on the “Day of Central German Baroque Music 2001 in Zwickau”, Schumann Research Center; quoted from: Paul Luchtenberg: Wolfgang Müller von Königswinter . Volume 1. Verlag Der Löwe Reykers, Cologne 1959, p. 269.
  87. ^ Hannes Fricke: Myth guitar: history, interpreters, great hours. Reclam, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-15-020279-1 , pp. 85 and 100.
  88. ^ Bernward Halbscheffel: Johann Sebastian Bach and rock music. Quotes, paraphrases and arrangements. Halbscheffel, Leipzig 2018, ISBN 978-3-943483-06-2 , pp. 59–79.
  89. ^ Bernward Halbscheffel: Johann Sebastian Bach and rock music. Quotes, paraphrases and arrangements. Halbscheffel, Leipzig 2018, ISBN 978-3-943483-06-2 , pp. 83-188.
  90. ^ Eckard Kröplin: Bach in Russian-Soviet Music. (PDF), accessed on July 17, 2011 .
  91. City list (PDF)
  92. Johann Sebastian Bach in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints
  93. ^ F. Börngen: Johann Sebastian Bach astronomically honored - called Eisenach in the sky . In: MFB Verlagsgesellschaft (ed.): StadtZeit. City journal with information from the Wartburg district . Druck- und Verlagshaus Frisch, Eisenach March 2000, p. 21-22 .
  94. My name is Bach / Details on, accessed on July 16, 2018.