Thursday: The Importance of the Arts—Teach Your Children about Bach

Short Biography of Johann Sebastian Bach

Born into a very musical family, Bach was the youngest son of eight children. He was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany to Johann Ambrosius Bach (the local town musician) and Maria Elisabetha Bach. Both of Bach’s parents died within a year of each other – making him an orphan at the young age of ten.
     Bach went to live with his elder brother, Johann Christoph Bach – also a musician. Due to Bach’s obvious talent, however, his brother became jealous and locked up all of his music. This led Bach to sneak some of Pachelbel’s original manuscripts to copy and learn from. He secretly studied by moonlight for six months which led to problems with his eyesight throughout his life and eventual blindness. At the age of 15, his elder brother died, leaving Bach to continue his musical education on his own. During his lifetime, Bach would learn to play the keyboard, the organ and the violin.
     Bach was a happy family man and a proud and caring father. In 1708, he married his cousin, Maria
Barbara Bach, with whom he would have seven children. (Three of their children died in infancy.) Maria died unexpectedly in the summer of 1720 while Bach was in Karlsbad with his employe. (She was buried before he returned home, leaving him a widower with four children: Catharina Dorothea, Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Philipp Emanuel. (All three sons would in time become famous musicians.)

    In 1721, Bach was married for the second time to Anna Magdalena Wilcke. She was a professional Soprano singer and the youngest child the town trumpeter Johann Caspar Wilcke and Margaret Elisabeth Liebe. It was for Anna that Bach wrote many of his famous Arias. Besides singing some of Bach’s famous compositions and transcribing many of his Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, she also assisted him in raising a fine family. Together they had thirteen children. Two of their sons also became famous musicians, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach and Johann Christian Bach. (Ten of Bach’s twenty children died in infancy.)

(Shot of a music score written by Johann Sebastian Bach)

About the Song: “Minuet in G”

     “Minuet in G” was considered Dance* music during the Baroque period. On one occasion, the comment was made by one of Bach’s companions, “My guests cannot dance at your dance music!” Other’s commented that his music was “too beautiful to be danced to” as they stood in place clapping to the beat. Bach’s reply was, “The thing is that I want them to listen and not to dance…”
     “Minuet in G” is one of several pieces Bach compiled into an album and presented to his second wife, Anna as a gift. Entitled “The Little Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach”, this family legacy contained a collection of short pieces for Anna to play both for the children’s delight and entertainment, as well as to improve her clavier skills. Anna continued to add her favored pieces to this album. However, “Minuet in G” still remains one of the most popular pieces of this collection.


Information provided by Power-Plus Learning, Inc.

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