Bach family

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For people named Bach, see Bach (surname).

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 Sebastian went into a more modern world. Through all the misery of the peasantry at the period of the Thirty Years' War this clan 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. 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 (Hans) Bach (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 Sebastian Bach and now confirmed to be his (BWV 159a). Another descendant of Veit Bach, Johann Ludwig, was admired more than any other ancestor by Sebastian, who copied twelve of his church cantatas and sometimes added work of his own to them.[1]

Descendants of Johann Sebastian Bach[edit]

Family tree[edit]

Veit Bach
(d. 1619)
Johannes Hans Bach
Heinrich Bach
Christoph Bach
Johann Christoph Bach
Johann Michael Bach
Johann Ambrosius Bach
Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt
Johann Christoph Bach
Johann Nicolaus Bach
Maria Barbara Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Anna Magdalena Wilcke
Johann Jacob Bach
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Gottfried Heinrich Bach
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach
Lucia Elisabeth Munchhusen
Johann Christian Bach
Elisabeth Juliane Friederica
Johann Christoph Altnikol
Johanna Carolina
Regina Susanna
Wilhelm Ernst Colson
Anna Philippiana Friederica Bach
Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach
Charlotte Philippina Elerdt
Christina Luise Bach
(d. 1852)
Johann Sebastian Altnickol (1749–1749)
Ludwig Albrecht Hermann Ritter
Carolina Augusta Wilhelmine Bach
Juliane Friederica
(b. 1800)

Expanded genealogy[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. ^ New Grove Bach Family, p. 98, p. 111

External links[edit]