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Biography

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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) was a German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, organ and solo instruments drew together almost all of the strands of the style and brought it to its ultimate maturity. The Bach family produced various well-known composers, but Johann Sebastian is universally considered the greatest and most significant Bach. Although he introduced no new musical forms, he enriched the prevailing German style with a robust and dazzling contrapuntal technique, a seemingly effortless control of harmonic and motivic organization from the smallest to the largest scales, and the adaptation of rhythms and textures from abroad, particularly Italy and France.

Bach is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest composers in the Western tonal tradition. Revered for their intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty, his works include the Brandenburg concertos, the keyboard suites and partitas, the Mass in B Minor, the St. Matthew Passion, The Musical Offering, The Art of Fugue and more than 300 sacred cantatas, of which only about 195 survive.

Bach was a fairly prolific composer; he produced new music for each service his church gave, and he composed additional (secular) works "on the side". Although many (perhaps most) of his works were never written down, and many others were lost, over a thousand survive.

Various of Bach's shorter works (or portions of larger ones) have received significant attention in popular culture. Among the most pervasive are Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (from cantata BWV 147, the piece is variously viewed as either a Christmas piece or wedding music and appears on innumerable popular compilation albums for both occasions), Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565 (which, among many other appearances, is the opening work for Disney's Fantasia), and the famous Air from BWV 1068, usually known as Air on a G String.

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