Born in Protestant North Germany, Bach devoted his entire life to the study, composition, performance and improvisation of music. He also had twenty children. As a consequence Bach was in constant musical employment, be that either for the church, or at the court of a prince. As a result he never left Germany his entire life, and hardly travelled his native country. His output as a composer is vast, and his reputation in the world of Western music is that of a genius.
It now seems inconceivable that for a period of about 100 years after his death, Johann Sebastian Bach's music rested on the sidelines. Similarly astounding is the fact that during his lifetime Bach was known primarily as a virtuoso instrumentalist, performing on the organ, clavichord and harpsichord. It was not until the German composer Mendelssohn started championing his work that Bach's stature rose to that of one of the foremost geniuses in music. The selection in his fact-file above is just a tiny snippet of films his work has been featured in. His music has featured in over 200 films: not bad for a composer who lived centuries before the invention of celluloid.
Some people may find Bach's music rather dry and boring. It is certainly true that his music is very precise and imbued with symmetry, so much so that it is at times called mathematical, but the skill demonstrated in his writing, especially in the execution of counterpoint, is extraordinary. It is also important to note that many pieces Johann Sebastian Bach wrote were not intended as show pieces, but as exercises, often for his children. The stuffy image associated with Bach is the work of conservatism, something that unfortunately happens to every so-called classical composer. For many young people it is inconceivable to like any musician who looks like anyone resembling the guy on the pictures on this page, but consider this: Bach was a virtuosic improviser, an art now dead in classical music, had a fiery temper, questioned unreasoning authority, was twice married and had fathered twenty children. These facts might give us a more accurate and human picture of this man.