Bach FAQ 28


Was Johann Sebastian Bach Rich?


Koethen was the place, where the ratio between the number of children, which had to be provided with food and clothes and life with two incomes of the same considerable level was best. That however changed with the move of Bach to Leipzig. Bach depressively reported about the high cost of living in a letter to his school friend George Erdmann.


In general you can say, that Bach never really was short of money, but his hints alone in the above mentioned letter, that cost of living was extraordinarily higher in Leipzig than in the contemplative Koethen, is proof, that he didn't have money in abundance. Plus, you get a better feeling for the answer to your question, if you read how small the number of those works finally is, that were printed in copper, a costly fun back then.


However, Johann Sebastian Bach earned more than his forerunners were paid in the same positions, always. Plus, he received a higher payment than he made in the position before each move. Plus, there was an additional crucial payment – aside of his salary, which he received from the sovereigns in Weimar and Koethen and the income which he made in Arnstadt, Muehlhausen and Leipzig. He generated this additional income with performing music on weddings, funerals, christenings and special events. Johann Sebastian Bach was a teacher in great demand too.


In the first years of the twenty-first century records were found, according to which Johann Sebastian Bach is said to own shares in the silver mining industry. However, that wouldn't tell that Bach was rich. Like it plays no role, whether parents or you in person own a few shares of BMW, Google or Siemens - not until you sell these shares, go away with a huge profit, and do not go on buying new ones, you are rich.


A next indication is a hint, that Johann Sebastian Bach was not even wealthy. It is the request letter of Johann Sebastian Bach's widow to the city council of Leipzig after Bach's death in 1750. This letter wouldn't exist, if Johann Sebastian Bach would have left his family in a perfect financial situation. If there had been something like copyright and the payment from that back then, plus Bach would have lived today, even a band like ABBA would have been nothing compared to him. Whether this is really true, is what we can state not earlier but in the year 2260. Because it's for sure, that folks will still love Bach's music in the twenty-third century. And ABBA? German Heintje? Michael Jackson? Mario Lanza? May be too.  Finally the sales of his music works 1750 and in the oncoming years, by his wife Anna Magdalena and his musical sons, that is documents of today's priceless value, indicate, how fast and sustainable possibly small money reserves were spent. Finally there was not even money to buy a gravestone on Bach's last resting-place. If this isn't a final strong indication. Nope, Johann Sebastian Bach wasn't rich for sure.




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