This week marks Johann Sebastian Bach's 330th birthday on March 21 or 31, 1685. The difference is due to the change, during his lifetime, from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. Above, his vault in the floor of the Thomaskirche, Leipzig Germany.
Bach was born in Eisenach, the son, nephew, brother and cousin of import-ant professional musicians, and took seriously to the trade from an early age. His relatives, as well as some of the best-known musicians of the day, were among his teachers.
When his formal training ended in 1703, he took up the first of a series of jobs as court musician to different dukes and princes, and then as a church organist and musical director in a number of cities.
Along the way, he married and pro-duced the first of his 20 children, more than half a dozen of them important composers and musicians in their own right, including Wilhelm Friedemann, Karl Philipp Emanuel, Gottfried Heinrich, Johann Christoph Friedrich and Johann Christian.
He also went through a number of posts before arriving at his final destination, Leipzig, in 1723. In Leipzig. His job as Cantor of the choir school at the Thomas Church (Thomaskirche) made him respon-sible for music for four of the city's churches, including the Nikolaikirche (at right) and the Thomaskirche, and for major civic events as well. Since new music was a constant re-quirement, his work was prolific; he wrote over 300 cantatas alone during the Leipzig years.
Ironically, at the time of his death, he was admired as an organ virtuoso, but two of his sons were thought greater composers. Bach was originally buried in an unmarked grave in a local church cemetery; not until 1894 were his remains located and given a vault in the Saint John church. When that church was destroyed in World War II bombing, Bach's remains were relocated in the vault shown above, in Saint Thomas' Church.