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German Composer Johann Sebastian Bach

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The course of life of a brilliant German composer Johann Sebastian Bach is an astonishing combination of inexhaustible creative inspiration and common sense, as well as profound piety and practicability of daily life. Universal character of the talented and resourceful musician reconciled the differences between the terrestrial and celestial aspects of Bach’s character. He became one of the pillars of organ and piano music. Johann Sebastian Bach has been regarded as a magnificent virtuoso, composer, and constructor of musical instruments ever since.

Despite the pressure and rivalry of the Renaissance’s greatest minds, Johann Bach proved himself a genius. “He invented the lautenwerck (lute-harpsichord), the viola pomposa, and improved construction of organ” (Stauffer 149). Being a dexterous performer, composer, and master with the immaculate comprehension of the acoustics laws, Bach knew the technique of organ’s construction inside out. Moreover, he was a good hand at eliciting the whole specter of multifaceted sounds from this truly divine instrument. His melodies run the gamut from hard succulent basses to the elevated sounds of soprano.

Unbelievable capacity of Bach’s polyphonic pieces startled the minds of his contemporaries. It still makes hearts of the modern connoisseurs of classical music throb.  The future generations will definitely resort to Bach’s fugues and preludes in order to hone their skills of playing the piano. His music is timeless and has no boundaries, while cosmic phonation of organ, Bach’s favorite musical instrument, is not of this world at all. Johann Sebastian Bach is a priest of the high art and custodian of the heavenly harmony, who expressed infallibility of the universal laws by means of musical forms. Extremely complicated polyphonic pieces of Bach, based on the art of counterpoint and inconceivable tangle of melodic themes, can be compared to the most difficult mathematical equations. His music makes an ingenuous appeal to the sympathies of the listeners, steering their minds into the sphere of speculative ecumenical truth. Being a die-hard Lutheran, the great composer considered creation of new musical works to be his religious predestination. Bach thought that his musical works could spawn the finest sensibilities and lofty feelings in the hearts of the faithful. The high music of Johann Sebastian Bach’s organ masses helped the congregations to offer up their prayers to Heavenly Father.

Although he was a steadfast and loyal Christian, the composer did not scintillate the bigoted devotion to the theological principles. Bach led a regular life of a typical burgher, who was guided by the sober-minded considerations. On the other hand, he was not a lackadaisical or disinterested person. According to the Leipzig registrar’s archives, “Bach used to bicker with the magistrates and consistorial heads about the salary, which did not correspond to his status” (Schulenberg 157). The time showed that the material equivalent to Bach’s talent at that time had not existed neither in Leipzig nor in the whole Germany.

Johann Sebastian Bach was not simply an incorporeal ghost.  His unique musical endowments and strive for continual improvement, which demanded many hours of practice, did not prevent him from creating a huge family. He had to fend for 20 children, ten of whom survived to adulthood. Bach taught his “pedigreed” hereditary musicians the professional prowess of music. Taking into consideration the weight of domestic care he had to bear, “it is hard to imagine how did Johann Sebastian Bach manage to find time and resources to compose his everlasting works” (Baron 89). It is no wonder that father of the large family experienced constant lack of financial resources, which could not but dampen the spirits of the great composer.

Bach always grumbled that social vices like treachery and hypocrisy, which saturated the 18th century secular society, made him nervous. Constant squabbles and quarrels with the magistrates and other bureaucrats undermined health of the impulsive musician. Only music made Bach feel happy, dispensing him from the necessity to grovel before the nobility.

Musical and mundane existence of Back rested on three whales – austerity, logic, and harmony. The gifted German considered music to be a science that encroached on his whole lifetime. Unfortunately, Bach’s contemporaries had not evaluated his talent properly. Very few people regarded Bach as a great composer when he was alive, though his contemporaries recognized Bach’s talent of a virtuoso and music theorist. Few performers in the 18th century had aptitude for or were ready to play Bach’s musical works in view of the fact that it was very difficult. However, nobody had the temerity to ignore his achievements in the domain of musical temperament (system of tuning). Combination of harmony and superhuman abilities distinguishes Johann Sebastian Bach’s music from that written by other talented composers of the Baroque period.

The great Beethoven bestowed name “forefather of harmony” on Johann Sebastian Bach (Wolff 203). However, it would not be wise to confine Bach’s accomplishments to bringing the heavenly harmony closer to human beings by means of music. He was a paragon of virtue that managed to reconcile his sublime talent with judiciousness. Because of this, he stands out against a background of other gifted musicians (Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, List etc.) whose talent verged on mental unbalance. In terms of spirituality, Bach had a creative life, which would not however inspire Hollywood directors to shot a movie. Unrequited love, cruel agony, Shakespearean passion, as well as duels and gambling were not peculiar to Johann Sebastian Bach’s life.

Many of Bach’s contemporaries and counterparts were endowed with signs of unbalance, mental fragility, and unhealthy vulnerability. The works of such artists cause a flurry of emotions, and touch upon the thinnest strings of the human soul. Living on the brink of reality, the artists whose giftedness verged on insanity, created works of art that still disarray everybody who tries to concentrate his/her attention on the given piece. Thus, it is not a coincidence that life and activities of such artists arrest the attention of the psychologists studying music. Investigators of Johann Sebastian Bach’s life have to deal with quite the reverse situation. Signs of integral, healthy, and formed personality were preponderant in Bach’s character.

Bach can be roughly translated from German as a brook. Gradually, Bach’s thin creative brook transformed into the full-flowing river that inevitably fell into the boundless sea of world harmony. A century later, august Beethoven gave high praise to Bach, saying that he should have been named after the sea instead of river. However, being dwarfed by such luminaries as George Philipp Telemann and George Frederick Hander, he remained “a brook” until the end of his days.

The temperament of his fugues, cantatas, oratorios and preludes, the complexity of which has not been matched yet, is a symbol of the pianists, organists, and violinists’ masterly performance. Johann Sebastian Bach is a world-renown composer, virtuoso, and distinguished music theorist. The endowments that he possessed would be enough for a few geniuses, but Johann Sebastian was not the only venerable artist in his family. It seems like all of the Bach’s relatives lived under the aegis of a musical genius, which endowed them with unique faculties.

History of the humankind provides many examples of the seminal activities of the professional dynasties. However, Bach family is something incredible – musicians were sired by musicians. Many of them would have shot to stardom if Johann Sebastian Bach’s grandeur had not eclipsed them all. Anyway, his senior sons Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel became famous as “Gallic Bach” and “Hamburg Bach” respectively.

On the other hand, not all children of Johann Sebastian Bach were normal and adequate. Customs of those times did not prohibit close relatives from committing incest (sexual intercourse between persons too closely related to marry legally). Gottfried Heinrich turned out to be mentally retarded. Despite the obvious aptitude for music, he suffered from the incurable disease all his life. Moreover, he was not the only barren sprout on the Bach’s family tree. Ten other Johann Sebastian Bach’s children succumbed to different diseases and did not even reach the age of majority. This deplorable statistics may be explained by the penchant for incest that was peculiar to Johann Sebastian Bach’s ancestors and popular with the society of that time in general.

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