The Joy of Bach
The Baroque period was filled with the new idea that every issue had two sides. Great thinkers and masterminds left behind the idea that the world was either god- influenced or science-influenced. Most people embraced this notion, with the exception of a few. Johann Sebastian Bach was one of these few people. Bach, although the greatest composer of the Baroque period, led a life based on tradition and past influence, which left him virtually ignored for many years after his death.
Bach was born in 1685 in Germany amongst the turmoil of national reconstruction. He lived a quiet life with little musical influence, until the death of his parents at age ten. After their death, Bach’s older brother, who taught the very young Bach to play clavichord and harpsichord, raised Bach. Now, his life had the musical influence that is associated with Bach’s greatness. At the age of eighteen, he joined an orchestra where he learned to play the violin and organ. During this time the musical genius of Bach began to emerge (Jackson 15).
Although Bach’s name is widely recognized today, his contemporaries held little respect for his creative works (Herz 1). Only his skills as an organist were highly recognized and praised by those who knew of him. Many organ builders would not allow anyone but Bach to approve their creations. The composer’s works remained unpublished and unrecognized until many years after his death.
One explanation for Bach’s lack of recognition is his modesty over the works he created. He did not consider himself a genius. Bach merely sought to be industrious and diligent in his work. Most of his works are signed, “I did what I could” (Herz 2)…
… The last five years of Bach’s life made up the fifth period of his work. He wrote in a style unique to himself during the Baroque period that became known as the Bach style. He would create a line of melody and establish it in a song. Then, he would create variations of the melody to make up the rest of the piece. The longest composition contains eighteen variations, each distinct, but dependent upon one line of melody. The composers that followed Bach attempted to recreate his works, but none have reached his level of perfection (Jackson 16).
Though born in a turmoil-ridden Germany and ignored during his life and nearly 80 years after his death, Bach was the greatest and most influential composer from the Baroque period. His music has come to life and will likely never die. Johann Sebastian Bach will remain in the top of his class of composers.