Johann Sebastian Bach


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

A colossus amongst composers. He was the most eminent German organist of his day and he ranks as one of the finest composers for that instrument. The famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor is but one piece in a vast repertoire.

His various appointments at the courts of Weimar, Cöthen and, finally, St Thomas, Leipzig, required him to compose both secular and church music. Of the former there are the Orchestral Suites, the Brandenburg Concertos and many other instrumental and chamber works.

For the church, apart from the organ music, there are almost 200 cantatas (written at a rate of about one a week) as well as the St Matthew and St John Passions. The B minor mass stands as a fitting tribute to his faith, which was a significant influence to him as a composer, and to his supreme skill.

He was not a musical innovator but rather brought to a climax all the developments of polyphony and fugal writing that preceded him. His eyesight failed him in later years and, like his contemporary Handel, a botched operation - by the same doctor - left him almost blind.


You can view Presto's hand-picked selection of favourite Bach recordings (choral and vocal) here.

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