Bach family

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The Bach family was of importance in the history of music for nearly two hundred years, with over 50 known musicians and several notable composers, the best-known of whom was Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750).[1] A family genealogy was drawn up by Johann Sebastian Bach himself in 1735, his 50th year, and completed by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel.

The Bach family never left Thuringia until the sons of J.S. Bach went into a more modern world. Despite the poverty of the peasant class during the period of the Thirty Years' War, this family maintained its position and produced musicians who, however local their fame, were among the greatest in Europe. So numerous and so eminent were they that in Erfurt musicians were known as "Bachs", even when there were no longer any members of the family in the town. Johann Sebastian Bach thus inherited the artistic tradition of a united family whose circumstances had deprived them of the distractions of the century of musical fermentation which in the rest of Europe had destroyed polyphonic music.[1]

Ancestors of Johann Sebastian Bach[edit]

Family house, Wechmar

Four branches of the Bach family were known at the beginning of the 16th century, and a Hans Bach of Wechmar is documented to have been alive in 1561, a village between Gotha and Arnstadt in Thuringia, who is believed to be the father of Veit Bach.[1]

  • Veit (Vitus) Bach (c. 1550 – 1619, Wechmar) was, according to Johann Sebastian's genealogy, "a white-bread baker in Hungary" who had to flee Hungary because he was a Lutheran, settling in Wechmar. He "found the greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill".
  • His son Johannes Bach I [de] (c. 1580 – 1626) "der Spielmann" (lit. "the player"), was the first professional musician of the family. "At first took up the trade of baker, but having a particular bent for music" he became a piper.
  • His second grandson Christoph (1613–1661) was an instrumentalist.
  • His first great-grandson Johann Ambrosius was a violinist, and the father of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Others born before 1685[edit]

Johann Ambrosius' uncle, Heinrich of Arnstadt, had two sons: Johann Michael and Johann Christoph, who are among the greatest of J. S. Bach's forerunners, Johann Christoph being once supposed to be the author of the motet, Ich lasse dich nicht (I will not leave you), formerly ascribed to Johann Sebastian Bach and now confirmed to be his (BWV 159a).[citation needed] Another descendant of Veit Bach, Johann Ludwig, was admired more than any other ancestor by Johann Sebastian, who copied twelve of his church cantatas and sometimes added work of his own to them.[1]

Descendants of Johann Sebastian Bach[edit]

Partial family tree[edit]

Veit Bach
(d. 1619)
Johannes Bach I [de]
Philippus Bach
Johann Bach
Heinrich Bach
Christoph Bach
Wendel Bach
Johann Aegidius Bach
Johann Christoph Bach
Johann Michael Bach
Georg Christoph Bach
Johann Ambrosius Bach
Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt
Johann Christoph Bach
Jacob Bach [de]
Anna Martha Schneider
Johann Bernhard Bach
Johann Nicolaus Bach
Maria Barbara Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Anna Magdalena Wilcke
Johann Ludwig Bach
Johann Ernst Bach
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Gottfried Heinrich Bach
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach
Lucia Elisabeth Münchhausen
Johann Christian Bach
Elisabeth Juliane Friederica
Johann Christoph Altnickol
Johanna Carolina
Regina Susanna
Johann Georg Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Anna Philippiana Friederica Bach
Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach
Charlotte Philippina Elerdt
Christina Luise Bach
(d. 1852)
Johann Sebastian Altnickol
Ludwig Albrecht Hermann RitterCarolina Augusta Wilhelmine Bach
Juliane Friederica
(b. 1800)

Expanded genealogy[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bach, Johann Sebastian" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 124–130.
  2. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, "Bach Family", pp. 98, 111

External links[edit]