Essays On J.S. Bach

A broad survey, encompassing Baroque music in England, France, Italy, and Latin America, as well as Germany, is offered by Stauffer 2006; here one can view Bach through the wide-angle lens of 17th- and 18th-century art music. An excellent starting place for Bach in particular is the Wolff and Emery article in the venerable Grove Music Online. A bare-bones but up-to-date survey is found in Glöckner 2008. Küster 1999 touches on all of Bach’s music and is another good, general survey. Emans, et al. 2000– is a huge work in progress, jam-packed with information.

  • Emans, Reinmar, Michael Heinemann, Sven Hiemke, and Siegbert Rampe, eds. Das Bach-Handbuch. Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 2000–.

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    A multivolume reference work, projected to encompass seven volumes; four volumes published as of 2010. Substantial articles by many different contributors. Four volumes have appeared to date: a Bach lexicon (2000), Bach’s Latin church music (2007), Bach’s keyboard and organ works (2007–2008), and Bach’s passions, oratorios, and motets (2009). Three others (cantatas, chamber and orchestral music, and Bach’s world) are in preparation.

  • Glöckner, Andreas, ed. Kalendarium zur Lebensgeschichte Johann Sebastian Bachs. Enl. ed. Edition Bach-Archiv Leipzig. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2008.

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    Chronological listing of documented events in Bach’s life and contemporary performances of his music.

  • Küster, Konrad, ed. Bach Handbuch. Stuttgart and Weimar, Germany: Metzler, 1999.

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    A hefty tome, including the editor’s own four-hundred-page survey of Bach’s vocal music, plus in-depth treatment of the organ music, keyboard music, chamber and orchestral music, and several late works (Musical Offering, The Art of Fugue, canons) by other contributors. Includes important introductory essays on politics, reception, performance practice, and theology.

  • Stauffer, George B., ed. The World of Baroque Music: New Perspectives. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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    An excellent introduction to Baroque music, this collection of a dozen essays includes contributions on Bach’s practice of reusing his own music and on the St. John Passion.

  • Wolff, Christoph, and Walter Emery. “Bach, Johann Sebastian.” In Grove Music Online.

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    A bit dated since its first appearance in 1980, this (Grove Music Online) encyclopedia article nonetheless remains a good overview of Bach’s life and works. Includes a useful tabular list of works. Available by subscription.

  • Johann Sebastian Bach Essay

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the greatest

    composers in Western musical history. More than 1,000 of his

    compositions survive. Some examples are the Art of Fugue,

    Brandenburg Concerti, the Goldberg Variations for

    Harpsichord, the Mass in B-Minor, the motets, the Easter and

    Christmas oratorios, Toccata in F Major, French Suite No 5,

    Fugue in G Major, Fugue in G Minor ("The Great"), St.

    Matthew Passion, and Jesu Der Du Meine Seele. He came from a

    family of musicians. There were over 53 musicians in his

    family over a period of 300 years.

    Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany

    on March 21, 1685. His father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was a

    talented violinist, and taught his son the basic skills for

    string playing; another relation, the organist at Eisenach's

    most important church, instructed the young boy on the

    organ. In 1695 his parents died and he was only 10 years

    old. He went to go stay with his older brother, Johann

    Christoph, who was a professional organist at Ohrdruf.

    Johann Christoph was a professional organist, and continued

    his younger brother's education on that instrument, as well

    as on the harpsichord. After several years in this

    arrangement, Johann Sebastian won a scholarship to study in

    Luneberg, Northern Germany, and so left his brother's

    tutelage.

    A master of several instruments while still in his

    teens, Johann Sebastian first found employment at the age of

    18 as a "lackey and violinist" in a court orchestra in

    Weimar; soon after, he took the job of organist at a church

    in Arnstadt. Here, as in later posts, his perfectionist

    tendencies and high expectations of other musicians - for

    example, the church choir - rubbed his colleagues the wrong

    way, and he was embroiled in a number of hot disputes during

    his short tenure. In 1707, at the age of 22, Bach became fed

    up with the lousy musical standards of Arnstadt (and the

    working conditions) and moved on to another organist job,

    this time at the St. Blasius Church in Muhlhausen. The same

    year, he married his cousin Maria Barbara Bach.

    Again caught up in a running conflict between

    factions of his church, Bach fled to Weimar after one year

    in Muhlhausen. In Weimar, he assumed the post of organist

    and concertmaster in the ducal chapel. He remained in Weimar

    for nine years, and there he composed his first wave of

    major works,...

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