By Video Editor 7:13 pm PST
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was prolific in all areas of his life – he wrote more than 215 cantatas, numerous preludes and fugues for the organ, and a good handful of concertos. He was just as prodigious in his personal life, producing twenty children over the course of his lifetime, of whom sadly only ten survived into adulthood. Of his progeny, all were musical but only a handful went on to any success in music. Painting: “Bach and His Family at Their Morning Devotions,” by Toby Edward Rosenthal (1870) at Leipzig Museum.

“Our Bach didn’t shy away from recycling music. How could he do such a thing? Well, for some reason during that period, it was customary that every music piece could be played only once. If you liked a particular piece and wanted to hear it again, you could recycle it but for a different ensemble…and when Bach recycles for a different ensemble…

Let’s say it was written originally for two violins or an oboe and a violin, and he wanted to transform it for two pianos. You can count on him to add new harmonies, rewrite and improve.

If the musical piece was perfect to begin with, now it would be twice as perfect.” -Arie Vardi, conductor

Quotes from Bach

“The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God and refreshing the soul. Where this is not observed there will be no music, but only a devilish hubbub.”

“Music is an agreeable harmony for the honor of God and the permissible delights of the soul.”

“I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.”

“There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.”

“What I have achieved by industry and practice, anyone else with tolerable natural gift and ability can also achieve.”

“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.”

“Harmony is next to Godliness”
― Johann Sebastian Bach

“All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hubbub.”

“I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed . . . equally well.”

“Where there is devotional music, God is always at hand with His gracious presence.”

“God’s gift to his sorrowing creatures is a joy worthy of their destiny.”
― Johann Bach

“I have always kept one end in view, namely … to conduct a well-regulated church music to the honour of God.”

― Johann Sebastian Bach