Bach FAQ 78


Who Was More Famous: Johann Sebastian Bach or His Sons?


It depends. And with a wink: until the first of Bach's son had a job at all, it was their father.


Seriously: it is about a time, when Johann Sebastian Bach was on the peak of his musical success during his life time. The time, when his sons were following him on this trace (... long after initially writing this paragraph I erased the term "during his lifetime", as I thought a peak of fame has always to be within the days, when one is alive. But that's not true for Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach today is way more famous compared to back then. That is why I created my text in the way I did. And, you are right, it's the same with many artists from the past in all disciplines of art). The public just forgot Johann Sebastian Bach on the very day of his death. His work disappeared. Not really, it never as been lost. However, that isn't true as well, as ninety percent of his work really did disappear. But, in this chapter it's about the knowledge and his brilliance in the decades after 1750: in that time the knowledge about Bach's brilliance was lost. And this was exactly the era, when the four sons of Johann Sebastian became more and more famous.


That is the reason, why all four sons of Johann Sebastian Bach were even more famous when they were living than their father at that time. As late as eighty years after Johann Sebastian's death Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy performed the St. Matthew Passion again: exactly this performance was the beginning, when Johann Sebastian Bach started to become really famous. And since that time he became more and more famous. That is true in the whole world. His four sons' fame however faded after their death as, again, the fashion and taste for music was in a constant change and people liked a next style.


So, the precise definition is, that Johann Sebastian Bach's sons were even more famous when they were living than their father was, when he was living. My estimation for today is, that only one percent of all people who know Johann Sebastian Bach as one of the greatest musicians on earth do know, that his sons were famous back then as well.




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