Who is Johann Sebastian Bach and why is he considered one of the most important composers of all time?

He was born on the 31st March 1685, in Eisenach, Thuringia. His father, Johann Ambrosius, worked as a musician in the city of Eisenach and he taught the young Johann Sebastian to play the violin.

Great Classical
Music Composers
of all time!

“Johann Sebastian Bach was a great German artist and interpreter”.

Bach was very influenced by a local organist named George Böhm. In 1703, he worked as a musician in the court of Duke Johann Ernst in Weimar.

In 1707 Bach took up a position as an organist at the church of St. Blaise in Mühlhausen. Bach introduced arrangements intertwining different melodic lines even though this went against what the music the pastor believed he needed in the church. One of Bach’s most famous works from this time is the cantata “Actus Tragicus”.

In tribute to the Duke of Brandenburg, Bach created a series of orchestra concerts, which were known as the “Brandenburg concerts” in 1721. These concertos are considered some of Bach’s greatest works.

Bach later became the new organist and teacher at Santo Tomas Church where he was required to teach at Thomas School as part of his position and needed new music for weekly services, hence he launched into writing cantatas.

Bach enhanced the German style established through his skills with the counterpoint, the harmonic organization, and his adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach’s compositions include hundreds of cantatas, both sacred and secular.

Johan Sebastian Bach wrote extensively for organ and other keyboard instruments. He was the author of concerts for violin, chamber music, and for orchestra. His works use the genres of canon and escape. And therefore, he has been considered one of the most important composers of all time.

10 things you didn’t know about Johann Sebastian Bach

1.  Bach’s date of birth

In the biographical documents of Johan Sebastian Bach, we find two dates of birth, March 21 and 31. The reason is eleven days difference between the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar which is currently used throughout the world. Bach was born in 1685 when the Julian calendar was still used in Germany, which is why both dates are correct.


2. Bach was the father of 20 children

Bach was married twice, the first time with his cousin Maria Barbara with whom he had 7 children and with the soprano Anna Magdalena with whom he had 13 children. His first child was born when he was 23 years old and his last was born when he was 57 years old. In total, Bach had 20 children of whom only 10 survived to adulthood.

3. Bach was a modest and inspirational musician

Bach attributes the success of his abilities as an organist and musician to his discipline and constant work. He was a modest musician; this is revealed in some of the artist’s famous phrases:

“I worked hard. Anyone who works as hard as I did can achieve the same results”.

“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself”.

4. Catalog of works BWV

Wolfgang Schmieder cataloged Bach’s works in 1950 in BWV= Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis.

The criteria followed for assigning the number is the vocal or instrumental genre to which it belongs, not the date of composition, and the catalogue has been updated several times. Newly discovered works are given a number at the bottom of the list. It has 3 annexes:

I lost works, II doubtful works and III falsely attributed works.

5. Relaxing music

An earl pressured him to provide some so that his household harpsichordist Goldberg could play them on nights when he suffered from sleeplessness, and he paid for them with a silver cup overflowing with money.

“They are works known as “Goldberg Variations.”

6. Bach’s Motif

In German musical nomenclature, in which the note B natural is named H and the B flat named B, it forms Johann Sebastian Bach’s family name. Numerous composers have used this motif in their works as a tribute to the composer, including Schumann, Liszt, Kórsakov, Poulenc, and Webern.

Johann Sebastian Bach used the motif in some of his works, most famously as a fugue subject in the last counterpoint of The Art of Fugue.

7. The death of Bach and Handel

Both are the most famous composers of the baroque, they were born in the same month and year, 128 km apart but never had the opportunity to meet.

Bach underwent eye surgery, in 1750, by the British eye surgeon John Taylor. He subsequently died on July 28, 1750, from complications related to the failed treatment. Handel and Bach underwent eye surgery by the same doctor and became blind after the procedure.

8. Bach made a cantata for the coffee

Coffee Cantata in G Major BWV 211 is a satirical song about coffee addiction. In 1729, Bach took over the leadership of the Collegium Musicum founded by Telemann. It was made up of a group of music students who met on Friday nights at the “Café Zimmermann” on Santa Catherine Street to give concerts.

For this group of musicians, he probably wrote this cantata with text by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). It tells the story of a rich merchant who does not want his daughter to become fond of drinking coffee, the daughter is not intimidated by her father.

9. Bach was a performer, composer, choirmaster and music director, teacher, organist, and organ-building expert.

Thomaskantor was a musical position in Leipzig appointed by the city council. The position required the responsibility of the musical director of the choir of Santo Tomás, in charge of directing both religious services and celebrations or ceremonies.

Chapel Master was a prestigious music position awarded to a musician and composer who directs a group of singers and instrumentalists responsible for all types of music.

Age Tittle
1703 aged 18 organist in Arnstadt.
1704 aged 22 organist in Müehlhausen.
1714 aged 29 organist in Weimar
1717 aged 32 concertmaster in Weimar.
1718 aged 33 Kapellmeister at Koethen.
1723 aged 36 Thomaskantor in Leipzig.
1736 aged 51 Royal Polish Court Composer.

10. Bach’s monument in Leipzig

Mendelssohn financed the first monument to Bach in 1843 with the money from the tickets he collected by playing works by Bach on the organ in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Carl Seffner was the sculptor of the bronze statue that replaced the Mendelssohn monument in 1908.

Explore our  Music In Motion Canada Community
Subscribe to our Youtube Music in Motion Canada Channel


Music In Motion Canada is a digital community for people of all ages who have a common love of music.

Add your Expertise
Find Connections and Resources

Get updates and our newest
resources to your inbox.

Sign up and receive our
inspirational news.

Music in Motion Canada provides resources
to further your career!

* indicates required
Choose your Music Career Type