Johann Christoph Bach

1642 - 1703

Personal details

Johann Christoph Bach (1642–1703), the eldest son of Heinrich Bach, was regarded in the family tradition as the greatest genius before Johann Sebastian; in the family chronicle he is described as the “great and expressive composer”. J.C. Bach was presumably taught by the Arnstadt cantor Jonas de Fletin, who as a pupil of Heinrich Schütz represented the ideal of a style of composition combining the Italian and German traditions. For more than twenty years J.C. Bach’s collaboration with his cousin Johann Ambrosius Bach proved to be particularly fruitful. The Eisenach Stadtchronik wrote of Johann Ambrosius that in 1672 he had “created an effect at Easter with organs, violins, singing, trumpets and timpani” such as no cantor had previously achieved, but this impression was also due in no small measure to the demanding and extremely profound compositions of Johann Christoph Bach. His creative output encompasses, in addition to various works for harpsichord and organ, above all, motets, choral arias and cantatas which are distinguished by a high degree of technical skill and an extraordinarily harmonically rich and varied tonal language.