Johann Sebastian Bach
The Brook and the Wellspring
No timeline of the history of music would be complete without a prominent place for Johann Sebastian Bach. As Jan Swafford notes in his commentary, "The Brook and the Wellspring", music historians consider 1750 the end of the Baroque period because it's the year that Bach died. Bach's pioneering influence has left it's mark on all subsequent periods. In Swafford's words, "Our sense of music history begins with Bach."
Bach's life was pivotal in the history of music, and his innovation and mastery of new musical concepts such as polyphony and logical harmonic expression demonstrated the potential of musical invention for all generations to follow.
Born in 1685 the son of Johann Ambrosius Bach, Johann Sebastian is the best-known member of a family of famous composers and musicians. The Bach family's musical heritage is well-documented back to the mid-1500s, and by the first half of the eighteenth century as many as 25 Bach cousins and relatives were active musicians, including Johann Sebastian's three brothers. Thanks largely to Bach's tutelage, his sons Carl Philipp Emanuel, Johann Christian, and Wilhelm Friedemann all became respected composers in their own right.
Pursuing a musical career in Bach's day was often a trying process, despite his prodigious talent and musical background. As part of this feature, Performance Today aired readings of Bach's correspondence with employers, as well as actual job descriptions from the period. Listen to these readings, which trace much of Bach's career path.
Johann Sebastian Bach produced a seemingly endless stream of works, including "The Brandenburg Concertos," over 220 church cantatas, as well as hundreds of pieces including organ, chorale and chamber works. Swafford discusses several of these masterpieces, such as the lovely "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." Hear Jan Swafford's commentary on the amazing life and music of one of the greatest geniuses of this musical millennium, Johann Sebastian Bach. Swafford's commentary marks the first installment of the Milestones of the Millennium series.
In conjunction with Performance Today's Milestones of the Millennium series, a companion CD series is available from Sony Classical.
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