Today, Johann Sebastian Bach is considered one of the most famous composers in history. But that wasn’t always so. He died at the age of 65, thinking that his music was old fashioned and that no one would remember what he had written. Today, his music is some of the most famous music there is! Can you picture hearing his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, famous now during the Halloween season? Check out this stellar performance and then read through these 10 facts about his life to learn more about J.S. Bach.
#10 J.S. Bach’s father played violin in the castle of the Duke of Eisenach.
#9 J.S. Bach’s father’s cousin, Christoph, was an organist at the church where he sang as a boy. He would sneak into the church after school some days to hear him practice.
#8 When he was 10 years old, both his parents became ill and died. He and his brothers moved in with their older brother, Johann Christoph.
#7 The new school Bach attended was a famous school for trying new teaching ideas. The students were encouraged to learn by doing and to find the answers for themselves.
#6 He was a quick learner, but his brother said he wasn’t ready to learn the pieces in a book of famous compositions that were in the cupboard. So at night, J.S. Bach snuck downstairs and copied the notes by hand using only moonlight so he wouldn’t wake anyone up. It took him 6 months! That was how badly he wanted to learn to play the pieces in this book!
#5 When he was 15, he went to live at St. Michael’s School. One summer he wanted to go hear a concert given by Johann Adam Reinken but he didn’t have any money to go by coach so he walked. It took him four days. He loved the concert so much and was so glad he made it.
#4 When Bach was around 18 years old, he was hired to be the organist at a church in Arnstadt. This organ had been played by members of Bach’s family for nearly a hundred years!
#3 He loved to compose so much that this sometimes got in the way of his church duties. He wrote over 1,000 pieces!
#2 His first-wife, Maria Barbara, died when he was 35. Then he married Anna Magdelene. She often helped her husband write out the parts for his compositions.
#1 He did, in fact, have 20 children. And four of them became famous composers – Carl Philip Emmanuel, Wilhelm Friedemann, Johann Christoph Friedrich, and Johann Christian.
Sources can be found here.
- More Stories of Composers for Young Children by Catherine Wolff Kendall c. 1985, pp. 9-20