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Johann Sebastian Bach ... for many folks, Bach means dreamlike music. But some of them want to learn more about the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. For them, “Bach on Bach” and Bach ueber Bach” offers a small, exciting biography here (... below the following picture). For all those, who are interested in the life and the work of Bach … in their mother language. Below the next picture, the biography is starting. Did you arrive here, after research on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu or Yandex? If so, that is proof that – aside from the short biography here – there is a top placing about Bach pointing to my website in your mother language. There are many topics, which are excitingly related to Johann Sebastian Bach. They even provide fun, if you don’t speak English: For instance, enjoy the many Bach videos: 33 dreamlike pieces of music from Bach and 33 photo themes. That is a total of 1,089 music videos alone, without narrated text. To more information about the whole Bach project please click here or after reading this page at the bottom of this page. It’s the page number 1 in your mother language. If you clicked to the current page, coming from page 1 in your mother language … then have much fun with the following Bach short biography in your mother language.
Johann Sebastian Bach in Paris, France.
The Veit Bach mill in Wechmar ... almost torn down.
The genealogy of the Bach family of musicians – the largest family of musicians on earth and of all time – is really complicated. Bach experts fight, whether the Bache, how they were called back then, came from Hungary or from a place that was called Ungern. After that, one Bach after the other made music, almost all of them.
Very important for the genealogy of the Bach family of musicians: the Bach place of Wechmar, a small community in Thuringia. Here is the place, where the first Bach made music: Veit Bach, the great-great-grandfather of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Eisenach: what a nice town, rich in historic treasures.
Johann Sebastian Bach was the eighth child of eight children, the pet of the family so to speak, born on March 21st and ( ? ) on March 31st, 1685 at Eisenach. It depends, which calendar you use, Gregorian or Julian. His father was Johann Ambrosius Bach and his mother was Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt.
Rich in historic buildings, monuments and fountains: the Bach town of Eisenach, Thuringia.
The Johann Sebastian Bach monument.
The Bach House at Eisenach back then, around 1900.
The true house of birth is assumed some 27 seconds of walk east of the Bach House (Bachhaus) in the area of the Ritter Lane and the Luther Street in Eisenach. Wait a minute, how can somebody be born on two days in a month? It depends on the calendar you chose. There was already the Gregorian and still the Julian calendar valid at that time. It was just changing when Johann Sebastian was born. Scientists fought for centuries, which date is the correct one. Later, they agreed that 21st of March is Bach's date of birth. In the age of nine years old, Johann Sebastian’s mom died. Shortly after that, his dad married again. Then his father’s brother died. And as these two brothers seemed to love each other from the bottoms of their hearts, that was too much pain for Bach's dad – he died, too. It is said that Johann Sebastian was a very bad student at that time, and he missed a lot of days and hours in school. Other biographers state, the reason was, that he was needed by his dad to feed the family and perform music as a brilliant singer, while his father made the music on festivals and weddings.
The lovely Bach town of Ohrdruf, the residence of Johann Sebastian’s oldest brother.
The beautiful palace at Ohrdruf.
The church in Ohrdruf, where Bach's brother was organist.
After mom and dad of Johann Sebastian had died, he moved in with his oldest brother at Ohrdruf. There, Johann Christoph Bach was teacher and cantor. He educated young Johann Sebastian, playing the piano and the pipe organ. There is a story that the young composer Johann Sebastian tried very hard to get information out of a booklet which his oldest brother didn’t want to let him copy, and he had locked. So Johann Sebastian silently stepped down the stairs at night to the little cabinet with the iron grill and put his little hands through the cabinet door. He managed to grab the booklet and copied it in numerous full moon nights, as he needed the rare light to see the notes. When his brother found out, he was so angry that he took this copy away and never returned it to Johann Sebastian until Johann Christoph died. Why? We will probably never know until time travel begins in the close future.
Johann Sebastian left Ohrdruf when his oldest brother needed all the space as his family grew bigger. Together with his best friend, Georg Erdmann, he hiked to Lueneburg. Lueneburg was considered "abroad" back then, a small town south of Hamburg in the North of Germany. Here he got a scholarship and made some additional money for a living with singing and making music. After finishing school as one of the best, he returned to Thuringia.
The text on the Johann Sebastian Bach Memorial reveals, that he lived and worked in Weimar twice.
After Johann Sebastian Bach hiked back from Lueneburg to Thuringia, it's unknown where he spent the following half year. After that break, he was hired by the Duke of Weimar to be just some of any musicians with the ruler's court band.
The city hall of Arnstadt, its front is restored beautifully.
Johann Sebastian keeps an eye on what's going on in front of Arnstadt's city hall.
Cute Arnstadt ... do you discover the Bach Church in the background?
The Bach town of Arnstadt: so much to discover, so much to experience.
The ruin of Palace Neideck, a tourist magnet in Arnstadt.
Arnstadt, the "fifth" Bach town: what a lovely place in Germany! And, a lovely place in Thuringia. Plus, what a cool memorial.
In Arnstadt, Bach was a very young adult. He was a rebel with a sense of humor. Today he is just leaning there, relaxed, watching the tourists and what’s going on right in front of the city hall. After he changed the world of music on earth forever in the last 300 years. In Arnstadt – for the first time in his life – he earned more money than anyone else ever had in this office: He became organist in Arnstadt. And, of course, he made more money than at Weimar. It is here, where he probably met Maria Barbara, his love. It is said that he did the unthinkable! He let a young lady perform music in the church: This lady sang as an artist. This lady was probably not Maria Barbara, but nobody knows for sure. He got into big trouble because of that. Johann Sebastian decided to marry Maria Barbara, née Bach, later. Yes, she was a cousin of Johann Sebastian, however a second cousin. That was absolutely common back then. After all, many of those folks married sisters and brothers of their brothers and sisters. Confusing? That is probably because of my translation. So nothing illegal or unmoral. Just the question: “...do you have a nice brother or sister who I could marry?”. No Facebook, no Google+, no internet. So folks had to find different options. Johann Sebastian and Maria Barbara’s wedding was celebrated at Dornheim, a village some two miles away from Arnstadt which still exists today. Excuse me? What I mean, is that Dornheim didn’t disappear. And the Bach’s wedding church, the Bach memorial and a little Bach restaurant are so close to the town of Arnstadt that you should not miss this cute place when you are travelling the path of the great composer and visit Arnstadt.
Just a Hint, Do not Translate, Please
Just a reminder (... please don't translate this hint ...): Please keep the red and bold links in your mother language red and bold, too. As they are important for me to place my hyperlinks later on. Thank you so much. Plus, keep every light blue number attached to your translated text. Thank you so much for this, too.
The city wall of Muehlhausen. And, one of the medieval gates.
One of many churches in Muehlhausen: impressive!
The very young Johann Sebastian Bach standing beside the basement of his memorial, not on it.
In Muehlhausen, Bach was honored with a much higher payment than the musician in this office before him ... for the second time. He became cantor at the Divi Blasii Church, an impressive cathedral. Bach’s monument in the pedestrian zone left of the church entrance at Mühlhausen reflects this symbolic career even today, as Bach is not standing on the basement of his memorial but beside it. As if he would not yet belong on it. However, he only spent one year at Muehlhausen, called the "City of Gates and Churches", which was – by the way – a free town at that time, an exception back then. Johann Sebastian Bach left Muehlhausen for his next destination. A "free town"? We explain that in the next paragraph.
Back in time: Feel the era of Johann Sebastian Bach.
A monument remembering the wedding of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach.
Johann Sebastian Bach married his love, cousin Maria Barbara, at Dornheim, a village close to Arnstadt.
A really likeable, small and cozy Bach restaurant invites visitors to a romantic place in Dornheim.
City hall in the Bach town of Weimar.
The marketplace and two of many dreamlike houses in Weimar.
Next? Bach wanted a new job in Weimar, ever since, a bright and great place. And again – you know it – he got more money. Yes, both more than he earned before and more than the person before him earned in that position. Only almost a decade later, after some nine years, he wanted to move on again. But his royalty wouldn’t agree to that. So Johann Sebastian messed up and was imprisoned for four weeks. It was that easy back then: If you ask to leave but get no answer from your royalty ... you are stuck. If you leave anyway – bad luck – you go to prison. Finally, Duke Wilhelm Ernst went down in history not for his great doings, but for having imprisoned the greatest musician of all time. So you better be careful who you put behind bars. Muehlhausen, the city where Bach worked before, was a free city and the residents were free persons. In Weimar, it was different. That was a duke's property, and residents and employees were owned by the ruler.
Almost hidden close to the city hall and the market square: the Johann Sebastian Bach memorial in Weimar. It's between the two trees, almost invisible.
Just a wall is left, where once the house stood in which Johann Sebastian and his family lived. There are no plans yet to locate a Bach House on the current parking lot again.
Rich in history: Köthen, center of the city.
The Johann Sebastian Bach Monument in Köthen reminds us of the great composer.
Köthen was the place where Bach could picture himself staying forever. He was accepted as a great musician, his royalty loved and supported him. The world was nice, the place was great. But on returning from a trip with his royalty, he found that his beloved Maria Barbara had died. Even worse, she had been buried without his presence. From that point on, everything went south. His royalty had married a woman who showed no interest in music at all. So the excitement of Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen for music cooled down as well. After a short time, bad things developed. Plus, everything around him reminded Johann Sebastian of Maria Barbara. However, after half a year, he fell in love with a next woman. Still today, Bach biographers disagree whether it was just because he needed someone for the kids and the household. But to check this out it is this simple: read two controversial books, which I recommend in my book section of this website, both available in German and English. And decide for yourself. Welcome to the world of the Bach family – see me smiling? Nothing was left in Köthen that could make Bach stay there for more years to come. So he decided to move again.
Leipzig, what a town, what a cultural heritage!
Latest state-of-the-art meets a glorious past: the University of the Bach city of Leipzig.
The St. Thomas Church in the Bach town of Leipzig.
The most well-known Bach monument is right next to the St. Thomas Church (Thomaskirche). Here – and in more churches in Leipzig – he worked for 27 years.
There are two monuments of Bach in Leipzig: The old one is located in a public park, some five steps away from the St. Thomas Church. Get here to all 33 Bach monuments all over the world.
Bach had to make a decision: On the one hand, he would have been well paid in Leipzig; on the other, he had a very large family to support. And, as he mentions in the only preserved private letter to his then best friend Erdmann, Leipzig was a very expensive place to live at that time. But it was the perfect background for all his children to learn and study in Leipzig. So he decided to take this option.
The only ray of light in a challenging environment of authorities: Johann Matthias Gesner. When Johann Matthias Gesner was principal of the St. Thomas School, time was good for the Bach family at Leipzig.
Can you imagine such a thing: When the council of the city of Leipzig was looking for the next Thomas Cantor, they tried to hire three famous different musicians first. But all three refused. And this, as it turned out after more than a quarter of a century later, was a very bad omen for the whole cooperation between Bach and the Leipzig authorities. The contract between the "master of all musicians" and the council of the town of Leipzig was unbelievably restrictive. Even considering that customs were different back then compared to nowadays, the rules were like between villains and masters. A funny thing is that Bach was ordered by contract to create musical works of art, that should not be too long, which resulted much later in the famous St. Matthew Passion, which is a total length of three and a half hours. Bach’s life and work was a steady up and down, while the downs were more often and longer. Keeping in mind that a genius of this degree must be often misunderstood, as few folks recognized the volume of his brilliance ... the authorities of the town of Leipzig were the least to do so. It is written and proven by documents that the city council said that if they couldn’t hire the best, they had to be happy with a "moderate" musician. Bach for them was the "fourth choice" and a moderate musician!
Believe it or not: The world-famous St. Matthew Passion with its first performance in April 1727 wasn’t even mentioned in the daily newspaper on the next morning back then. Although a masterpiece not from this earth.
Treasures, very hard to find: an age-old postcard showing the old Bach Monument at Leipzig, back then at a different place.
After his death in 1750 Bach’s work "disappeared" for more than three-quarters of a century. Not for experts, of course ... but for the general public. To be precise, exactly for 79 years. It wasn't until another musical genius came along, a Bach lover. And this composer represented the St. Matthew Passion of Bach in the public for the first time since Johann Sebastian's death. Performed in a shorter version, as he felt he could not expect the original version of the audience for the second time at all. That was the true start for the current fame of Johann Sebastian Bach. This great musician and composer’s name was Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. While almost nobody of the current seven point eight billion folks on earth remembers Johann Sebastian’s once famous four sons, lovers of classical music and musicians all over the world adore the unique composer of Eisenach, Johann Sebastian Bach.
Thanks to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy we didn’t lose Bach’s outstanding life work. He was the one to reperform the St. Matthew Passion for the first time after 79 years. What a success and what a beginning of the actual career of one more genius.
Thousands of Bach admirers travel on a pilgrimage to the grave of Johann Sebastian each year ... from all over the planet.
Today Johann Sebastian’s grave is inside the Thomaskirche, the St. Thomas Church at Leipzig, after a long and shameful odyssey over many years. Too sad to tell, as it started with a hastily burying of his remains "somewhere". Years later he was exhumed and buried again, and finally he found, with a third burial, an appropriate place at last ... in front of the Lord’s Table at St. Thomas Church.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s grave inside the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Saxony.
The impressive Johann Sebastian Bach memorial attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world.
This is the only painting of Johann Sebastian Bach by Gottlob Elias Haussmann that shows what Bach looked like, scientists believe.
A contemporary model of Bach's face has been modeled recently after the only bust by Carl Seffner. And after Bach’s skull. Seffner himself actually modeled Johann Sebastian Bach's bust after the only “authentic” painting (... the one above), as only the famous Haussmann portrait is believed to be "genuine". Because actually ... nobody really does know what Bach looked like ... because there are so many paintings around: Bach looks different on every one of them. So, I guess, we decide to believe that Bach looked like Gottlob Elias Haussmann painted him.
What a beauty of a postcard: That is what we are "hunting for", to display jewels like this one on the websites of my Johann Sebastian project and our Johann Sebastian Bach mission.
Are you through with this page 2? Now hop to the German offer. Explore, what needs no foreign language skills to experience and enjoy, too.
This website is created with the goal that international Bach fans and Bach starters will be cordially invited to learn more – because there is, beyond that, no choice but to learn English or just be happy with the wonderful music of Johann Sebastian. So, from the very beginning, my German and English websites are constructed in a way that will provide fun beyond the language barriers. You are invited to explore many website pages more, such as the Bach stamps, by the way it is the only physical collection of all existing Bach stamps in the world ... his dreamlike music, and the soon huge Bach Picture Gallery.
My Bach Music Work Collection for you, for instance: Choose any piece at random. After that, choose a 1 of 33 photo themes to watch while you listen. Enjoy a dream for both your ears and your eyes. After that, try another combination. Even better: Try many of the English offers. And a very special secret: Open a breathtaking AI translation program in the background for one word or another. It will help with many, many challenges.
Another big deal for countless biographers was the assertion that Bach had a temper, because it is said that he threw his peruke at one of his students. And more similar incidents! Again, keep in mind, he was a genius. For that reason: In no space is the difference between two individuals as big as if somebody with no talent at all works with a genius in his or her special field. And it is a fact that Johann Sebastian Bach even had to teach students who had no clue of music and weren’t even capable of singing in a choir. Plus, many of the students of the St. Thomas School were not musical at all, back then. All this is a historical fact, proven in the famous “Erdmann letter”: Bach complained about that situation. He stated that several of his students are, quote, “...not to use for any music job ...”. Plus, some of his students were terribly uninterested. Now imagine the calmest person you know, and you provoke this person for days, weeks and even months. Can’t you picture any quiet person go overboard when he or she is tired, stressed out or has a cold? And what did Bach do? Did he throw his stick, the next best violin, a chair, a piano (....correct, I am kidding)? No, he is said to have pulled his peruke from his head and thrown it in anger. By the way: It’s not told whether the peruke hit or missed its goal. Yes, kidding again. In addition, the story, that Bach threw is peruke, can only have happened once, because after doing so, Bach would have realized, perukes don't fly properly. I guess, he had known that before, so he didn't try it ... it's a myth.
You might have heard about the story, when Johann Sebastian Bach had “used” his épée. That is also one reason, why he was considered to have a temper. Well, in Arnstadt the master once was unhappy with the behavior of one of his students. He complained in front of the city council, but the student was a member of the elite families of the town of Arnstadt. A bigger issue developed and it got very nasty. But Bach didn’t succeed. And one night when Bach was walking home, a bunch of his students crossed his way. All of them angry at their teacher. What kind of verbal dispute happened is not told. However, imagine yourself in the uniform of a concertmaster on your way home, with an épée being part of the dress code back then. Wouldn’t you have drawn your épée? Not to use it, but just for your own protection? Yes ... you would.
The story of when Bach was sent to prison. He wanted to complain to his ruler, he was ready to relocate to Köthen, he wanted to clear the situation with his duke. However, his employer didn't want to talk about that situation and Bach "was stuck", so to speak. Because he belonged to the ruler. That is why he might have used some inappropriate words in his frustration.
Finally, the situation, which frustrated Bach the most: In Leipzig, it was Bach's job, to decide for a deputy. But the principal of the St. Thomas School bypassed him and appointed a deputy himself. And when Bach complained to the city council, he did not get justice. That led to the only private letter of the musical superstar to his friend Georg Erdmann.
Why don't you make it an adventure related to Johann Sebastian Bach? Click on the flag above. After that, explore each chapter. Some of them are a waste of time if you don't speak German. However, others deliver a variety of fun, as they are not based on speaking German at all. You can expect best rewards in the Bach stamp section, in the Top 33 Bach music pieces section, in the Bach Photo Archive and the small Bach videos are rewarding, whether there is narrated text or not. Just try one. Click here or on the German flag. Another option, of course, is to return to the navigation on this English "Bach on Bach" website.
An enlarged detail of the card below: see the birthdate? Nice try. Bach's birth was in March in both calendars, in the Gregorian Calendar and in its "counterpart" - so to speak - by the way, one of the oldest solar calendars, the Julian Calendar. What's wrong on the close-up of the postcard above? But likable? Check on the month of the year 1685. It's neither correct with the Gregorian Calendar, not with the Julian Calendar. March was the month, in which Johann Sebastian Bach undoubtedly was born.
Falling in love with treasures around Johann Sebastian Bach: one more age-old postcard.