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Famous After Death - Johann Sebastian Bach


Yes, believe it or not, even Bach, one of the greatest composers of all, wasn't truly recognised in his lifetime.

Here's the lowdown.

Even though he came from a well known musical family, he was an orphan by the age of ten. He lived with his older brothers until he began a musical apprenticeship at fifteen.

Bach was the youngest of his family.

His career mostly consisted of playing the organ in churches and even in court. He built up a solid reputation as a talented composer, though was often fired as he didn't behave very well, according to his employers.

It wasn't until he was almost forty that he began publishing his compositions and making them available. (In later life, he re-wrote and enhanced some of these earlier works).

Forensic reconstruction

While he did write mostly for the keyboard, he did compose some concertos for the violin, harpsichord and orchestra. His work was religious in nature and very much of its time. The ethereal power behind the work was deliberate. It was meant to be an experience.

He was elected court composer by the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland when he was almost fifty, yet his difficult reputation followed him. Ah those artistic types.

He died aged 65 in 1750.

It wasn't until the next century that biographies of Bach began appearing as his compositions grew in popularity. As time passed, his stature grew, while those of his time, fell away. Something we've come to see again and again in this series.

The Wender Organ he played in Arnstadt, still in great condition. 

St Matthew's Passion is one of his more famous works. You can listen to it here, if you've got a spare three hours.


  1. It's a crying shame that this happens so regularly. Writers, artists, composers, and especially poets...

  2. 65 - quite an old age for that time.
    Bach was an inspiration - to say the least.

    Happy weekend, friend.


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