Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity. Although he did not introduce new forms, he enriched the prevailing German style with a robust contrapuntal technique. He used an unrivalled control of harmony and motives, organization, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France.
Revered for their intellectual depth, technical command and artistic beauty, Bach's works include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Partitas, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Mass in B minor, the St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion, the Magnificat, the Musical Offering, The Art of the Fugue, the English and French Suites, the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, the Cello Suites, more than 200 surviving cantatas, and a similar number of organ works, including the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, and the Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes and Organ Mass.
During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the then late Bach was widely recognized for his keyboard work. Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin were among his most prominent admirers. Beethoven described him as the "Urvater der Harmonie", "original father of harmony". Composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Robert Schumann, and Felix Mendelssohn began writing in a more contrapuntal style after being exposed to Bach's music.
The composer's reputation among the wider public was prompted in part by Johann Nikolaus Forkel's 1802 biography. Felix Mendelssohn significantly contributed to the revival of Bach's reputation with his 1829 Berlin performance of the St Matthew Passion. In 1850, the Bach Gesellschaft (Bach Society) was founded to promote his works; by 1899, the Society had published a comprehensive edition of...