Composer #1: Bach

Why do we learn about the past?

In social studies, we learn about ancient civilizations. In language arts, we read books written many years ago. In art class, we learn about famous painters and artists. Why is it important to learn about things that happened years ago?

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking to the past. First, we'll learn about some of the famous composers and their impact on the musical world. Then, we'll look at music from other cultures and understand their importance.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)

Today, Johann Sebastian Bach is known as one of the most famous classical composers. Even though he is famous today, he wasn't very famous during his life. In fact, most people thought he was just a talented man with an interesting job. Bach was born in 1685 in Germany. If Bach were still alive today, how old would he be?

Take a look at some paintings and sculptures of Bach below. Is there anything you can learn about Bach from these pictures?

Bach Pictures

The Story of Johann Sebastian Bach

Listen to the narration of Bach's story and open up the Microsoft Form. As you listen, try to answer as many questions as you can. Look at the questions before we begin:

  • Everyone in Bach's family was a _______________
  • By the time Bach was 18, he had a job as an ___________________
  • What instrument did Bach play in the Duke's orchestra?
  • What happened when Bach tried to quit his job?
  • Bach's next job was at a _______________
  • Was Bach famous when he was alive?
  • Where was Bach's music sent in 1977?

Bach's first job in Weimar

Bach's second job in Köthen

Bach's third job in Leipzig

Voyager Spacecraft

Master of the Fugue

Bach was known as "The Master of the Fugue" (pronounced fyoog). A fugue is a composition in which a short melody is passed around by different parts. Bach wrote over 150 fugues for organ and other keyboard instruments!

Here's an example of the melody in Bach's Little Fugue in G Minor:

A pipe organ is a large keyboard instrument. It uses air blown through pipes to create a variety of sounds. Many of Bach's church compositions were written for the organ.

Listen to Bach's "Little Fugue in G minor"

How many times do you hear the theme?