Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Father of Spiritual Music

Johann Sebastian Bach [1685-1750] is the Father of Spiritual Music. He lived at the end of the Renaissance Period in music. It was also the beginning of the Baroque Period. The impact of Johann Sebastian's output and personality was so deep that the whole Baroque era came to an end with his death in 1750. The name `Baroque' is derived from the style of art of that time that symbolised curvature as well as ornamentation. Bach influenced, single handedly, the style of the period and assimilated it in music throughout Europe. Bach was an extra-ordinary composer besides spending most of his life as a church organist. His music sprang from a strong inner spirit and was wholly expressive of the human values symbolised by his personality. Prior to him, music was purely composed to entertain the elite in the society and for the entertainment of the citizenry. Bach revolutionised that by dedicating it to monarchy of that time, no doubt, but fulfilling his inspiration and writing creativly for the King of Kings. In his young days, he was so enthusiastic about hearing Dietrich Buxtehude play the organ that once he walked close to fifty miles to hear him. Bach went on to become the greatest organist of his time. Johann Sebastian Bach was born on 21st March 1685 in Eisenach. As a young child, he learned to play the harpsichord and the violin. When he was fifteen, he became a member of the choir of St. Michael's Church in Lueneburg. Later on, he became a violinist in the orchestral ensemble at the Court of the Duke of Weimar. He was made an organist at the Churches of Arnstadt and Muelhausen. He then became the Kappell Meister and Director at the Court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt at Coethen. In 1723, he took up the Cantorship of the ThomasSchule in Leipzig in addition to working as a Director and an Organist at the two main churches there. He retained these positions until his death. Bach was a person with a cheerful disposition. He was happy-go-lucky. He married twice and had twenty children. Many children of his went on to become prominent musicians after him. Johann Sebastian Bach was a prolific composer. He has written over a thousand compositions that range from sacred to secular works and from solo instrument pieces to concerti and orchestral suites. Many of his works are regarded as the basic learning models for all aspiring musicians.An example is his Books for the Well Tempered Klavier and his collection for harpsichord, `The Art of the Fugue'(Die Kunst der Fuge). Th opening prelude in C Major of his Well Tempered Klavier is heavenly. It has been used many times later by other composers. Gounod used it in his Ave Maria. One of the movements from his third orchestral suite has been immortalized as the Air for the G String. This was done almost a century after his death when the Aria was transcribed for the lowest string on the violin, the G string. Bach's music represents an art that is timeless and a prayer that reaches the Divine Architect of the Universe.

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