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Table of contents

The Doke was not only a cultured artist, bat was also a man of genuine piety. The in c r ease in his income early in also supports the conclusion, while a letter of January 14, , written by Bach, is not signed by him as Goncert- meister. It would seem that his promotion took place in the interval between the two letters. As Goncertmeister it was part of his duty to provide Gantatas for the church services.

Twenty-two were written by him at Weimar. Bach spent part of the autumn of every year in visits to the Gourts and larger towns of Germany in order to give Organ recitals and to conduct performances of his Gantatas. But for some reason miknown he did not obtain the post.

It was given to a clever pupil of Zachau, named Kirchhoff. He had made good use of his opportunities, had studied hard as a player and composer, and by tireless enthusiasm had so completely mastered every branch of his art, that he towered hke a giant above his contemporaries. Baoh's feet, an admirer recorded, ' flew over the pedal-board as if they had wings.

Forkel records the famous contest with Marchand, bhe French Organist, at Dresden in The latter's post was still vacant and a new and particularly large Organ sixty-three speaking stops was being erected. The authorities pressed Bach to submit himself to the prescribed tests, and he complied so far as to compose a Oantata and to conduct a performance of it. On his return to Weimar he received a formal invitation to accept the post.

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After some correspondence Bach refused it, partly, perhaps chiefly, on the ground that the income was inadequate. The refusal was answered by the groundless accusation that he had merely entertained the Halle proposal in order to bring pressure upon Weimar for a rise of salary. The misunderstanding was cleared away by , when Bach visited HaDe again.

In the interval Zachau's post had been given to his pupil, Gottfried Kirohhoff. The whole matter is discussed at length in Spitta, i. Hib arrival in Dresden was due to his being in disgrace at Versailles. Forkel's judgment upon his art is not supported by modem criticism. He died at Dresden in Bach accepted the invitation and set out at once on his journey.

Upon his arrival at Dresden Volumier procured him an opportunity to hear Marchand secretly. Far from being discouraged by what he heard. Bach wrote a polite note to the French artist challeng- ing him to a trial of skill, and offering to play at sight anything Marchand put before him, provided the Frenchman submitted himseU to a similar test. Marchand accepted the challenge, a time and place for the contest were fixed, and the King gave his approvaL At the appointed hoxxr a large and distinguished company assembled in the house of Marshal Count Flemming.

After considerable delay he was sought at his lodging, when it was discovered, to the astonishment of all, that he had left Dresden that morning without taking leave of anybody. Bach therefore performed alone, and excited the admiration of all who heard him, though Volumier was cheated of his intention to exhibit the in- feriority of French to German art. According to this story of the event, Bach, summoned from Weimar, attended Marchand's concert incognito, and after hearing Marchand perform, was invited by Volumier to take his seat at the Clavier. Bach thereupon repeated from memory Marchand's theme and variations, and added others of his own.

Having ended, he handed Marchand a theme for treatment on the Organ and challenged him to a contest. Marchand accepted it, but left Dresden before the appointed hour. Bach was, therefore, already known to him and showed the greatest regard for him both at Cothen and after he had left his servioe. The post was given to Drese's son. On August 1, , just before or after his Marchand triumph. Bach wm appointed Kapellmeister to the Court of Cothen. Duke Wilhelm Ernst refused to release him from his engagement, and Bach endured imprisonment from November 6 to December 2, , for demanding instant permission to take up his new post.

With his departure from Weimar in Bach left behind him the distinctively Organ period of his musical fertility. Though his com- positions were still by no means generally known, as a player he held an unchallenged pre-eminence. At Cdthen Bach had an inferior Organ and tittle sorpe for his attainments: His praise therefore was particularly flattering toBach.

The yearning to get back to the Organ, which eventually took him to Leipsig in , shows itself in his readiness to entertain an invitation to Hamburg in See notes upon ihem and their relation to the Hamburg extemporisation in Terry, ' Baoh's Chorals,' Ptot m. James, vacant by the death of Heinrich Friese in September He was not able to stay to take part in the final tests, nor was he asked to submit to them, since his visit to Hamburg had given him an oppor- tunity to display his gifts. In the result the post was given to Johann Joachim Heitmann, who acknowledged his appointment by forthwith paying marks to the treasury of the Church.

See Spitta, iL 17 ff. That a profeesed historian of mnsio, setting before the public for the first time the life of one whom he so greatly extolled, and with every inducement to present as complete a picture of him as was possible, should have taken no trouble to carry his investigations beyond the point C. Bach and Agricola had reached in the ' Nekiolog ' of is almost incredible. The only reason that can be adduced, apart from the lack of a really scientific impulse, is that Forkel was almost entirely ignorant of the flood of concerted church music which poured from Leipog from to His criticism of Bach as a composer is restricted practically to Bach's Organ and Clavier works.

Latteriy his interest in music had waned. The fact, along with Bach's concern for the education of his sons and his desire to return to the Organ, exfdains his abandonment of the more dignified Cdthen appointment. Matthew Passion,' which he was then writing, with the first chorus of the 'Traner- Ode ' as an opening of the extemporised wort:. So widely was Bach's skill recognised by this time that the King, who often heard him praised, was curious to meet so great an artist.

More than once he hinted to Carl Philipp Emmanuel that it would be agreeable to welcome his father to Potsdam, and as Bach did not appear, desired to know the reason. Carl Philipp did not fail to acquaint his father with the King's interest. But for some time Bach was too occupied with his duties to accede to the invitation. However, as Carl Philipp continued to urge him, he set out for Potsdam towards the end of , in company with his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. Booh had petitioned for the appointment in a letter dated July 27, Spitta, iii.

Bach applied for it in , taking advantage of the recent accession of the new sovereign, Augustus m. Flute in hand the King ran through the names, and suddenly tiuming to the waiting musicians, said with considerable excitement, ' Gentlemen, Old Bach has arrived. Wilhelm Friedemann, who accompanied his father, often told me the story.

Nor am I likely to forget the racy manner in which he related it. The courtesy of those days demanded rather proUx compliments, and the first introduction of Bach to so illustrious a monarch, into whose presence he had hurried without being allowed time to change his travel- ling dress for a Cantor's black gown, obviously invited ceremonial speeches on both sides. On the other hand, Spener, who first records the event, states briefly: His Majesty was informed that Kapellmeister Bach had arrived in Potsdam, and that he was in the King's ante-chamber, waiting His Majesty's gracious permission to enter, and hear the music.

His Majesty at once commanded that he should be admitted ' Spitta, ilL n. If the Marpuxg and Spener dates are reliable, it looks as though Friede- mann's story of his father, travel-stained and waary, being hurried incontinent into the presence of the King is a piece of picturesque embroidery. Bach tried the instruments and improvised upon them before his illustrious companion. After some time he asked the King to give him a subject for a Fugue, that he might treat it extempore.

The King did so, and expressed his astonishment at Bach's profound skill in developing it. Anxious to see to what lengths the art could be carried, the King desired Bach to improvise a six-part Fugue. Frederick's courtesy to Bach, however, tends to discredit the story that ten years earlier Handel deliberateLy refused to meet the King at Aix-la-ChapeUe owing to the peremptori- ness of his summons. Bach was already familiar with his Claviers with hammer action, and indeed had offered useful criticism of which Silbermann had taken advantage.

See Spitta, iL I hear that they all now stand, unfit for use, in various comers of the Royal Pftlace. Bach himself chose a theme and, to the astonishment of all who were present, developed it with the skill and distinction he had shown in treating the King's subject.

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His Majesty ex- pressed a wish to hear him on the Organ also. The indefatigable diligence he had shown all his life, and particularly in his younger years, when successive days and nights were given to study, seriously affected his eye-sight. The weakness grew with age and became very distressing in character. The King does not appear to have been present.

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The extemporisation of the six-part Fogoe took place in Frederick's presence on the evening of that day. He calls it ' a musical offering, of which the noblest portion is the work of Your Majesty's illnstrions hand. He lost his sight completely in consequence, and his hitherto vigorous constitution was undermined by the drugs administered to him. He sank gradually for full half a year, and expired on the evening of July 30, , in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

A few hours later he was seized by an apoplexy and inflammatory fever, and notwithstanding aU possible medical aid, his weakened frame suc- cumbed to the attack. Such was the career of this remarkable man. I will only add that he was twice married, and that he had by his first wife seven, and by his second wife thirteen children; in all, eleven sons and nine daughters. PtobaUy his last work was the Choral Prehide Novello bk.


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An addendum to the Genealogy, in C. Baoh's hand, gives Jnly 90 as the date of his father's death. Of the five sons of the first marriage, two were famous, two died in infancy, and the fifth abandoned a pro- mising musical career for the law. Of the ax sons of the second marriage, one was imbecile, three died in infancy, two were famous.

Thomas, Leipzig, in Thomas' School at nine o'clock on the morning of Monday, May 31, He died in his official residence there at a quarter to nine on the evening of Tuesday, July 28, He was buried early on the morning of Friday, July 31, in the churchyard of St. The announcement of his deaHi, made from the pulpit of St.

Thomas' School of this town. The Cantor of St. Peter's, and the New Ghurch.

He was also recfponsible for the music in the University Church of St. Paul, the so-called 'old service,' held originally on the Festivals of Easter, Whit, Christmas, and the Reformation, and once during each University quarter.

On high days music also had to be provided at St. Bach, as Cantor, succeeded to a more restricted responsibility, which dated from the early years of the eighteenth century. The New Church, originally the Church of the Franciscans, hcd been restored to use in In Qeorg Philipp Telemann, who came to Leipzig as a law student three years before, was appointed Organist there.