The Music Of Bach

The Music Of Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was called the immortal God of Harmony by none other than Beethoven himself. The composer’s music inspires a feeling of love, reverence and even spirituality.

His most popular piece of organ music is Toccata and Fugue in D minor, which is a soundtrack used in many movies. A popular wedding sound is Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring while a cigar company used Air on the G String in a primetime TV ad when TV could advertise such stuff.

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  • Born in 1685 in Germany, Bach was in a dynasty of musicians, though his mother and father died before he turned ten.
  • Even as an orphan, he got into what he loved, starting with organ music as a court musician, composing for church services.
  • This added a flavour of the devotion and love in his music at an early age. He started compiling instrumental music in Cöthen, moving away from his earlier style and using a more diverse range of instruments.

For many musicians, Bach is the ‘alpha’, a shared point of reference, a starting language of how music can be made, and how it can sound. His work is timeless and covered by countless composers, jazz players and patrons. In his instrumental works, his music had a sense of balance and harmony which is found in nature, in the trees, the moon and the sky.

Pieces like the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin and The Well-Tempered Clavier provide a glimpse of the other shore of the universe. The works are precise, complete, and mathematically balanced. They feel satisfying after hundreds of years as they carry a theme where each repetition and transformation fits like a jigsaw puzzle. This was never repeated or fully emulated by any other musician ever since.

  • Bach’s shifting to a cosmopolitan city in Germany resulted in a sort of serendipity that helped him compose his finest music like Magnificat, and about 200 cantata.
  • He composed gems like Christmas Oratorio and two great gospel compositions for Good Friday: St John and St Matthew.
  • Bach left incomplete a final collection called The Art of Fugue when he died in 1750.

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How many pieces did Bach write in his lifetime?

In his lifetime (65 years), Bach composed an incredible 1128 pieces of music. There are a further 23 works which were lost or unfinished. 

His best-known compositions include:

  • The Well-Tempered Clavier,
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor,
  • Air on the G String,
  • Goldberg Variations,
  • Brandenburg Concertos and many more.

Bach: Compositions, children, biography and more facts about the great composer

classicfm.com

Music of the Greek and Roman times

Music has probably played an essential role in humans. Evidence shows that early man developed primitive flutes from animal bones and used stones and wood as percussion.

Surviving Greek notation has given scientists a clue to how the music of the early Greeks and later the Romans might have sounded. Instruments featured during these times include the trumpet as an instrument of announcement and the lyre as an integral player in the songs of poets.

Brief History of Music: An Introduction

cmuse.org

Classical music offers something on a large scale

Very few art forms offer something as big as an orchestra—one hundred people playing music that can last over half an hour.

To start with, try to identify some of the different things you hear.

  • Pick one of the nine Beethoven symphonies, then add to the Western canon: Brahms Second, Tchaikovsky's Sixth, Mahler's Fifth, Bruckner's Seventh, and Shostakovich's Fifth.
  • Or start from the 21st century and work backwards.

Perspective | A beginner’s guide to enjoying classical music. No snobs allowed.

washingtonpost.com

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