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London Piano Institute on Johann Sebastian Bach

London Piano Institute is the U.K.’s only adults-only piano school. Located in central London, London Piano Institute offers the highest quality instruction in classical, jazz, pop, rock and blues piano using the latest and most effective adult instructional methods. Here a top instructor at London Piano Institute discusses one the greatest keyboard composers of all time, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Information Nation: Almost everyone recognizes the Bach name.

London Piano Institute: That’s because he is universally recognized as one of the greatest composers and musicians in history.

Information Nation: When did he live?

London Piano Institute: He was born in 1685 in Eisenach, in what is now central Germany, and he died in 1750 in Leipzig, not far from his birthplace.

Information Nation: What period in musical history is that?

London Piano Institute: He lived and composed in what is known as the Baroque period.

Information Nation: Was he born into a musical family?

London Piano Institute: Yes, his father taught him violin and music theory and all of his uncles were professional musicians. Their posts included church organists, court chamber musicians and composers.

Information Nation: Where did he first encounter the keyboard?

London Piano Institute: One uncle introduced him to the organ, the primary keyboard instrument of the day, since most of the music that ordinary people heard was performed in churches.

Information Nation: Who else instructed him?

London Piano Institute: After both his parents died when he was only 10, he moved in with his older brother, a church organist in a nearby town, who continued to instruct him in organ and clavichord (an early form of piano) and introduced him to the music of other composers.

Information Nation: Was he formally schooled in music?

London Piano Institute: At the age of 14, Bach was awarded a choral scholarship to study at the prestigious St. Michael’s School in Lüneburg.

Information Nation: What was his first professional job?

London Piano Institute: After graduating from St. Michael’s, he was appointed court musician in the chapel of Duke Johann Ernst in Weimar where his reputation as a keyboardist grew.

Information Nation: When did he begin composing in earnest?

London Piano Institute: After several other brief postings as a church organist, he married and returned to the ducal court at Weimer where he worked with a large contingent of professional musicians. This was the start of a long period of composing keyboard and orchestral works.

Information Nation: What are some of his best-known works for the keyboard?

London Piano Institute: The Well-Tempered Clavier contains a prelude and fugue in each of the 24 major and minor keys. It is thus used as a primary exercise book for keyboardists in their training.

Information Nation: What does “well-tempered” mean?

London Piano Institute: A temperament is the system of tuning used to make it possible to play in a number of musical keys. In Bach’s time, that was an innovation.

Information Nation: What are some of his other keyboard works?

London Piano Institute: The 15 Inventions and Sinfonias, Partitas for keyboard, and the Goldberg Variations are among the best-known.

Information Nation: Did he continue to perform?

London Piano Institute: Yes, he was organist and composer at a number of churches during the remainder of his life and achieved notoriety as a court musician.

Information Nation: Did he achieve fame in his lifetime?

London Piano Institute: While he was recognized by important noblemen and other German composers like Handel, he was not widely known until long after his death.

Information Nation: Where is he buried?

London Piano Institute: He is buried in Leipzig where a statue is erected in his honor.

Information Nation: Why is he revered as a composer?

London Piano Institute: There are many reasons, but if I had to summarise it would be that the technical complexity and beauty of his music are unparalleled.