Johann Sebastian Bach
Widely recognized as a pivotal figure in Western civilization, composer Johann Sebastian Bach is viewed as bridging the juncture between the Renaissance and the early modern period in terms of musical sensibility. In fostering this sea change in the Western aesthetic sensibility, J.S. Bach exerted a broad and profound influence over many aspects of Western culture. Over 250 years after his death, he remains a highly significant figure.
As fascinating and important as Bach's musical contributions have been, the composer's life and upbringing are similarly interesting. In the process of presenting a biographical account of J.S. Bach's life, this analysis will consider the impact of the cultural and historical moment in which Bach reached his creative peak upon his musical and cultural achieve. Through a critical overview of the influences and experiences that helped to shape Bach's unique outlook, the composer's own influence will be better understood. The astounding ingenuity of the Bach family as a whole will also be considered as part of the discussion.Finally, in conclusion, an overarching assessment of the historical importance and biographical significance of J.S. Bach's life and works will be presented.
Although Johann Sebastian Bach is the most widely renowned of the Bach family, members of this illustrious clan were involved in many of the cultural and artistic activities of Europe throughout the Renaissance, early modern, and modern periods. In particular, Bach's family had long been involved in music composition and performance, often performing for heads of state and official functions. For example:
- Johann Ambrosius Bach - J.S. Bach's father, was employed as the official horn player to the court at Eisenach.
Johann Ambrosius Bach participated as a leader in the town's band.
Bach - The Early Years
As such, he pressed his children into service from a young age. J.S. Bach, who by all accounts displayed extreme musical precocity, was compelled to gain conversancy with the clavier, as well as a number of other instruments.
From a very young age, then, J.S. Bach was initiated into the world of musical performance. This had two main results in shaping the course of the composers life: first, and most importantly, this early experience laid the theoretical and practical foundations that were necessary in order to later make the important innovations that Bach would eventually contribute to classical composition. In addition, by viewing his father's many relationships with court performance, J.S. Bach attained from an early age a thorough understanding of the benefits of associating oneself with the ruling class and the many benefits that could arise from such professional relationships.