Johann Sebastian Bach was born in 1685 and died in 1750. He was a German composer during the Baroque era which began around 1600 and ended with his death in 1750. The Baroque era included among others, the composers Handel, Monteverdi, Vivaldi and Buxtehude. Baroque music is noted for its ornamentations such as trills, its counterpoint, (multiple lines with rhythmic variation), and its various complex forms such as Fugues, Inventions, Toccatas, Sonatas, Suites, and Oratorios.
During Bach’s lifetime, the system of equal temperament tuning that we use to this day emerged, which allowed composers to develop complex modulations to far away keys over the course of a composition. This tuning system of equal distant semi-tones allowed Bach and his contemporaries to compose increasingly complex harmonic music. One of Bach’s master works are his “Well Tempered Clavier”, which includes 2 books of preludes and fugues for keyboard in all 24 keys (12 major, 12 minor), that explore the possibilities available in an equal temperament tuning system, and established what we now call the “Common Practice Era” of western harmony that defined the next 200 years of classical music (early 18th century-1900), and includes among others; Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, as well as many popular music composers from in the 20th and 21st century who continue to work in similar harmonic structures.
Among Bach’s numerous compositions are many works for Church including numerous Oratorios, Church Cantatas, Motets, Passions, Masses, and hundreds of Chorales. His responsibilities as a church organist included writing new music every week, which he did for most of his professional life.
He also wrote numerous solo works for keyboard, cello, solo violin, lute and various other solo works.
Some of his most famous works include the following master works:
Toccata and Fugue
The Brandenburg Concerto
The Well Tempered Clavier
Air for the G string
The St. Matthew Passion
The Intermezzo String Orchestra will be performing a collection of short Bach Miniatures for the upcoming “From Sea To Shining Sea” SFYSA concert this month.
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