The Music Influence on Society and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Impact on Culture

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I choose the Baroque Period as I think it is one of the most exciting periods of Music. Not only was the Music appealing and impressive, but the composers who lived during this time were also astonishing and intriguing. The composer Johann Sebastian Bach lived during the time of the baroque period. I believe Bach is one of the most sensational composers of all time, creating breathtaking Music for us all to enjoy.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Early Life

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer who developed Baroque sacred Music in Germany.

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The name “Bach” simply means “brook” and was widespread in many countries. However, the largest clan of Bachs was settled in Thuringia in Germany. Most of these Bach were peasants, but some held great importance. From the mid-16th century, the Bachs were beginning to gain more of a professional music significance. By the beginning of the 17th century, there was a network of musical Bach’s in Thuringia in Germany. Young, Percy M, The Bachs, 1500-1850 (London: Dent, 1970) Bach was born on March 31, 1685, in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany. Bach was the youngest child of Johann Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lämmerhirt. Johann Sebastian Bach was born into a prestigious musical family. Bach’s father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, worked as the town musician in Eisenach and influenced Bach’s life greatly as a younger boy. Williams, Peter F, Bach Organ Music (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1980)

Bach’s Musical Education and Growth

Bach started school at seven years old. In school, he learned many difficult subjects. However, the main focus was on religious education and Latin studies. Bach grew up to be very talented at many instruments, these include the piano, the organ, and the harpsichord. It is also believed that he was also taught the violin by his father. However, at the age of 10, sadly, Bach found himself an orphan after the death of both of his parents. His older brother Johann Christoph (1671–1721), a church organist in Ohrdruf, decided to take care of young Bach and support him. Johann Christoph’s musical experience proved important to Bach as he influenced his musical growth. Johann Christoph saw potential in his little brother and enrolled him in a local school. Bach stayed with his brother’s family until the age of 15. Life with his brother later influenced his musical ideas. Later, he attended a school in Lüneburg. Bach was regarded as a talented singer and an intelligent schoolboy. Along with being musically talented, he proved to be a diligent and knowledgeable boy too. It was here at Lüneburg that Bach was greatly influenced by a local organist named George Böhm. It is thought that George Böhm was an idol of Bach’s father. Williams, Peter F, Bach Organ Music (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1980). Naturally, his voice would have broken, but he remained at Lüneburg. Bach spent a great deal of time studying in the school library, especially church music. Robert L. Marshall and Walter Emery “Johann Sebastian Bach – German Composer “(1999)

Significant Moments in Bach’s Career

After Bach’s time in Lüneburg, he visited Hamburg. This was because he wanted to hear the renowned organist and composer Johann Adam Reinken at the Katharinenkirche, also contriving to hear the French orchestra maintained by the Duke of Celle. Robert L. Marshall and Walter Emery “Johann Sebastian Bach – German Composer “(1999). By the summer of 1702, Bach returned to his homeplace, in Thuringia, and by March 4, 1703, he was a member of the orchestra employed by Johann Ernst, Duke of Weimar. Many employers were not happy with Bach’s behavior and shamed his absence; this was because he took a month’s leave and walked to Lübeck, and his work, especially because he did not produce any cantatas. Bach became an independent organist. Bach devoted himself to keyboard music, the organ in particular, at Arnstadt, where he remained until 1707. After a few years, Bach was known as an expert and highly skilled. Bach was of great significance to the society. However, to this day, nobody knows for sure how he attained these skills. Williams, Peter F, Bach Organ Music (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1980).

In June 1707, Bach seized a post at the Blasiuskirche in Mühlhausen in Thuringia. He moved there soon after and married his cousin Maria Barbara Bach at Dornheim on October 17. Bach remained composing. Some of his best pieces were written after this time. These include the famous organ Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565), the Prelude and Fugue in D Major (BWV 532), as well as the organ Passacaglia in C Minor (BWV 582) and Cantata No. 71, Gott ist mein König (God Is My King). Robert L. Marshall and Walter Emery “Johann Sebastian Bach – German Composer “(1999) Accessed October 30, 2018. Sadly, Bach’s development cannot be traced in detail during the years 1708–14. However, this was a time when his style underwent a profound change. It is evident from the series of cantatas written in 1714–16 that Bach was influenced by new styles and forms of contemporary Italian opera and by the innovations of such Italian concerto composers as Antonio Vivaldi. Robert L. Marshall and Walter Emery “Johann Sebastian Bach – German Composer “(1999)

Bach’s Personal Life and Achievements

Bach’s wife, Maria Barbara Bach, died unexpectedly and was buried on July 7, 1720. However, on December 3, 1721, Bach married Anna Magdalena Wilcken. Anna Magdalena Wilcken was the daughter of a trumpeter at Weissenfels. Apart from his first wife’s death, these first four years at Köthen with Anna Magdalena Wilcken were probably the happiest of Bach’s life. During his first two or three years at Leipzig, Bach produced a large number of new cantatas. After that, in 1726, Bach began to publish a book of instrumental works. This book contained the Concerto in the Italian Style and the French Overture (Partita) in B Minor, the Organ Mass with the Prelude and Fugue [“St. Anne”] in E-flat Major (BWV 552), and he also adapted some of his earlier concerti as harpsichord concerti, thus becoming one of the first composers of concerti for keyboard instrument and orchestra. It is clear that Bach was a significant innovator as well. The last few years of Bach’s life were filled with illness. Bach died on July 28, 1750, at Leipzig. Robert L. Marshall and Walter Emery “Johann Sebastian Bach – German Composer “(1999) Accessed October 30, 2018. It’s obvious that Bach had a major influence on the society at the time. He was respected, and his Music was enjoyed by all.

Understanding the Baroque Period

The baroque style was widely used since the nineteenth century to describe the period in Western European art music from about 1600 to 1750. The word “baroque” means “misshapen pearl” in Portuguese. Baroque is a term also used to describe ornate, dramatic, and elaborate Music. The movement towards Baroque Music was the most dramatic change in the history of Music. This change was first established by Monteverdi, Corelli, and Vivaldi in Italy. Then in the later eighteenth century, the change transferred to the German composer’s Bach and Handle. “About the Baroque Period” Music of Baroque 2015

Even Though all composers were writing in the baroque style, there are obvious differences in regional styles. However, similarly, they all saw Music as a powerful tool of communication. During this time, musicians and composers were employed by wealthy patrons, and they played or composed whatever their patrons demanded. Therefore composers were fortunate to earn a living. It is clear from this that Music held importance in this society and was regarded as a gift that must be rewarded. Composers produced many types of Music for their patrons, such as an opera which is a drama that is sung, accompanied by instruments, and presented on stage. An oratorio is an extended musical drama with a text based on a religious matter. Like the opera, it was intended for performance. However, without scenery, costume, or action. A cantata, which means literally “sung.” It is a vocal work, often involving a choir, with instrumental accompaniment. Other forms include a sonata, a concerto, and a suite. All forms were prominent during the Baroque period and were considered important during this time in society. What is Baroque Music? Accessed November 10, 2018. Bach focuses heavily on organ music. However, Bach soon realized organ music was not only for the listener and the composer but for the church too. The church had rules and relegations for organists to follow for their service. Williams, Peter F, Bach Organ Music (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1980). This was normal in society at this time. Especially because musicians were employed by wealthy patrons and the church. Music was thought of highly at this time in society. However, there were strict precautions that had to be followed.

The style of the Baroque period is evident in Bach’s works. The most common features include the use of the content, which is harmonic support provided by bass instruments, frequently the cello and the organ, figured bass where chords were not always written, and musicians were expected to know what chord to play by looking at the numbers printed below the bassline, long elaborate melodies that were shaped by harmony and featured thrills, grace notes, turns, sequences and melismas. Other similar features include modulation to related keys and the use of word painting. These features were obvious at this time in society for many composers. However, in my opinion, Bach uses them in the most efficient yet intriguing way.


I believe that the place of Music in society was thought of highly. This is because it was used for many events and daily occasions, such as in the church. At a time was the church was so prominent, Music was included and still is. In my opinion, this proves that Music held a high standard in society. Similarly, I think musicians held an important role and were considered essential in society. This is because they received a wage for their work. Without musicians like Bach, not only would the history of Music, but the future of Music would be very different. In my eyes, the composer Johann Sebastian Bach is an amazing composer and one I will continue to have an interest in. Finally, I believe the place of Music and musicians in society was regarded highly and held major importance during the Baroque period.

Works Cited

  1. Williams, Peter F. Bach Organ Music. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1980.
  2. Young, Percy M. The Bachs, 1500-1850. London: Dent, 1970.
  3. Cruel and Unusual (2011). Public Opinion on the Death Penalty. [Documentary]. United States.
  4. Robert L. Marshall and Walter Emery “Johann Sebastian Bach – German Composer” (1999)
  5. “About the Baroque Period” Music of Baroque 2015.
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The Music Influence on Society and Johann Sebastian Bach's Impact on Culture. (2023, Jun 17). Retrieved from