Johann Sebastian Bach: Happy birthday!


Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach

This post is from the Dutch MyHeritage Blog,  originally written by Denie Kasan, MyHeritage’s Netherlands community manager.

Today, March 21, marks the birthday of one of the greatest musical composers, Johann Sebastian (J.S.) Bach (1685-1750). His famous works are still taught today to music students across the globe, ensuring that Bach’s music and style lives on.

Perhaps less known is Bach’s musical family background and abundant progeny. Within seven generations, the Bach family produced no fewer than 120 musicians and, over two marriages, Bach fathered 20 children!

Born March 21, 1685, in the German town of Eisenach (Thuringia), he was the eighth child of German composer Johann Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lämmerhirt. His musical legacy is attributed to his great-great-grandfather Veit Bach who, according to J.S. Bach’s diary, played the lute. Generation after generation of musicians were born to the Bach family, and many served as royal court musicians.

In 1707,  Bach married his second cousin, Maria Barbara Bach (1684-1720), with whom he shared a great-grandfather, Johannes Bach (1580-1626). The couple had seven children, including twins Johan and Maria and a son Leopold, all of whom died before their first birthday. His wife Maria died while Bach was traveling, and he did not learn of her death and burial until he returned home.

The children of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach (click to enlarge)
The children of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach (click to enlarge)

Eighteen months after Maria’s death, Bach married Anna Magdalena Wilcke, a royal court singer and daughter of royal court trumpeter Johann Caspar Wilcke. Together, they had 13 children, bringing Bach’s number of children to 20.

Do you believe that musical talent inherited genetically or learned? What do you think? Does your family tree demonstrate musical talent and can you trace its origins in your family? Please share in the comments section below.

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