Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was one of the leading composers of the Baroque. Although he never left central and northern Germany (he held positions in Weimar, Cöthen and Leipzig and his travels took him to Hamburg, Lübeck and Berlin), Bach was fully aware of musical developments elsewhere in Europe and remained up-to-date with music by his Italian contemporaries, Vivaldi above all. He also had a secure understanding of the French style. In fact, Bach was able to turn his hand to Italian and French styles with ease. As a writer of contrapuntal music (i.e. music which proceeds by simultaneously weaving different melodic lines), he was without peer. He was also an outstanding organist and was able to improvise contrapuntal music at the keyboard. A devout Lutheran, Bach wrote a huge quantity of music for the church, including cantatas, chorales, Passions and organ works. He also wrote a Catholic Mass, the colossal Mass in B minor. His music for keyboard includes the monumental Well-Tempered Clavier and his orchestral music includes the Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites. He fathered 20 children, ten of whom survived infancy including the composers C P E Bach and J C Bach.
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