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Great musicians part one: JS BACH – 1685-1750

JS Bach, born in Eisenach Germany is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. He is the patron saint of instrumental studies at Caroline Springs School of Music.

Bach’s music is the highest embodiment of the physical, intellectual and emotional elements in music.

When we study musicians of the past at Caroline Springs School of Music we always begin with Bach. His lifespan encompasses the highly important Baroque period (more on that in a later article).

Bach was born into a great musical family and he himself had twenty children. Over fifty musicians and several notable composers belonged to the Bach family over a two hundred year period.

The great Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1820) called Bach “The original father of harmony”. His skill in motivic development and contrapuntal invention remain unsurpassed to this day.

During 1705-1706 Bach would regularly travel by foot 400 kilometres each way to study with the great organist Dieterich Buxtehude. I always think of Bach when people say they are having trouble getting to their lessons.

Bach was well respected during his lifetime as a great organist and harpsichordist. Interestingly he played one of the first pianos ever made and was unimpressed. His abilities as a composer were not widely recognized until after his death when his music was recognized by prominent composers such as Mozart, Chopin, Schumann and Mendelssohn.

Bach’s catalogue is so vast and of such high quality it is difficult to single out recommended works. A good place to start is the Brandendburg Concertos, the Goldberg variations and the famous Cello Suites (particularly the Pablo Casals recordings). The works of Bach are a staple of our piano, violin, guitar and bass lessons at Caroline Springs School of Music. Bach’s music features strongly in ANZCA exams also. Our teachers thoroughly recommend you study the works of Bach and prepare for ANZCA exams on a daily basis.

According to historians Bach once challenged one of his insolent students to a swordfight. Think about that the next time your teacher censures you for not practising!

By Brendan Hains.

Principal at Caroline Springs School of Music.

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