Unfortunately, we’ve lost the video feed from our studio. The Bach press conference will be brought to you through computer images.
Good evening from ABC news. We have just learned that the famous composer of the Baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach, has suddenly appeared at an elementary school in New York. It’s not clear how he has come from the 1700s to the year 2010. He is holding a press conference with members of the press from all over the world.
ABC news: Welcome to the United States. Have you come to give a concert?
If I’m invited to play, I would be glad to. I would also like to attend as many concerts of your music as possible so I can get ideas for my own music.
ABC news: What type of concert would you most like to play?
That’s a good question. In my day, I was known as an accomplished organist. I would be honored to play a piece that has become one of my most famous, Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
The Sun Journal: In addition to organ pieces, what other types of music did you compose?
I wrote a great deal of music used in church services. A popular form was called cantata. In this type of music, there was a lead singer and a chorus accompanied by an orchestra. During my lifetime, I wrote hundreds of these.
News and Observer: Why was this style of music so popular in your day?
In those days, a church service could last 5 hours or more! People depended on the cantata music to keep them interested and awake.
News and Observer: Was the church your only employer?
No. I worked in the courts of several members of royalty. In fact, when I tried to leave one and move to a friendlier court, the first threw me in jail! After a month, I was released and went to work in another court where I wrote a lot of instrumental and keyboard music.
Wall Street Journal: When and where were you born?
Chicago Tribune:What language do you mainly speak?
German is my first language, but I’m doing my best to speak English to you today.
New York Times:Is it true that you were an expert at making complicated Baroque pieces sound natural and pleasing?
I’ve heard that. I didn’t invent the style, but I developed it into a form that many people thought was great.
CBS news:Is it true that you came from very musical family?
Yes. More than 70 of my relatives were involved with music. There were so many of us that the name “Bach” meant almost the same as “musician”. At family reunions, we had a great time playing our favorite music and making up funny songs together.
Yes. My father was a town musician and taught me to play the violin while introducing me to many other instruments. I was 9 years old when my parents died and I went to live with my brother. He taught me to play the harpsichord and organ. With him, I also learned to tune and fix organs.
IHT:Is it true that you traveled quite a bit during your life?
Very true. At 15, I left my brother’s home and walked 200 miles to attend school and join a church choir. I moved around always looking for better jobs. Some of them had additional duties like cleaning slop from the kitchen!
Once, I went on a very long trip to see an accomplished and famous organ player named Dietrich Buxtehude. He was getting ready to retire from a very good job as an organist, and I wanted the job. Part of the deal included agreeing to marry his oldest daughter, so I had to turn down the offer!
La Monde: How did you begin to get more musical positions?
My ability to play the organ and compose church music became more widely known and it was easier for me to find better jobs. It was at one of these positions where I met and married my first wife, Maria Barbara Bach. She was happy to travel with me as we raised our family together.
After I was released from my experience in jail, I worked for 6 wonderful years in the court of Prince Leopold. Unfortunately, several sad things happened at the end of that time. First, my wife died. Then the prince got married and his new wife did not like music at all. When the prince lost interest in my work, I decided to move on.
In 1723, I accepted a position as director of music in Leipzig, Germany. This ended up being one of the busiest times of my career-composing and directing music for 4 churches, a school choir, a university choir and any music the city might need for a special event. Two years earlier, I married my second wife, Anna Magdalena. Together, we had 13 children to add to the 4 children I already had.
The Boston Globe:It must have been difficult having a large family and such a demanding job.
Fortunately, my wife helped out with the time-consuming and boring job of writing down all the music I composed every week. Sometimes, my children helped out too. She was a wonderful mother and I always made sure I had time with my family too.
I loved all my children and saw to it that they got good grades in school and helped out around the house. It was also my pleasure to teach them about music. I can proudly say that 5 of my sons went on to be famous composers and musicians.
Dallas Morning News: How long did you stay in Leipzig?
We spent 29 years in Leipzig where I was able to write the Goldberg Variations for keyboard and many instrumental pieces.
Los Angeles Times: Were you famous toward the end of your life too?
Musical tastes began to change. People said they were tired of the big, complicated Baroque sounds. While I heard a lot of this new music being played and knew times were changing, I preferred to stick with my own style. I was criticized for being old-fashioned and was given a hard time by my many bosses. Most of them knew very little about music!
It became difficult getting money for music equipment. I was even accused of directing the choir poorly! Usually, I was able to ignore these silly complaints and stand up for my rights.
Baltimore Sun: Is it true that you had some health problems toward the end of your life?
Yes it is. In my last year, I began to go blind. Doctors tried a surgery, but it was not successful and I lost my sight completely. However, I did not stop composing. My music students were able to help me by writing down music I dictated to them.
You have just heard a news conference with famous composer of the Baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach. We hope you enjoyed this unique experience and now return you to your regularly scheduled program. Good day from ABC news.
This Power Point was based on a concept shared by a member of the Music K-8.com Mailing list. Unfortunately, I do not know the name of the person to whom credit should be given. Linda Abbott-December 2009