The German composer, Johann Ernst Bach, was son of Johann Bernhard Bach . On January 16, 1737 he entered the Thomasschule in Leipzig and became a pupil of his uncle J.S. Bach . After studying law at the university he returned to Eisenach in 1742 and deputized, without pay, for his ailing father. In 1748 he became his father's official assistant and the next year his successor. He continued to practise as a lawyer as well, and in 1756 he was appointed Hofkapellmeister 'in view of his well-known skill and musical knowledge'. He wrote the foreword to Adlung's Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit (Erfurt, 1758). Because of the fusion of the courts, he travelled between Weimar, Gotha and Eisenach and worked with Georg Benda on the reorganization of the Hofkapelle. When it was dissolved in 1758, after the death of Duke Ernst August, he retained his title and undertook duties in the administration of the ducal finances and worked with Georg Benda on the reorganization of the Hofkapelle.
As a composer, Johann Ernst bach was abreast of the stylistic innovations of his time although, like J.S. Bach's sons, he did not exclude contrapuntal writing. His vocal works are often highly dramatic and full of effects. His songs depend on the older tradition of Görner, Gräfe and Mizler; he wrote galant melodies full of expressive word-painting with lively basses and often elaborate accompaniments. His Passion oratorio is modelled on C.H. Graun's well-known Der Tod Jesu.
O Seele, deren Sehnen (passion oratorio), 1764, ed. in DDT, xlviii (1914)
Cantatas: So gehst du nun; Straf mich nicht in deinem Zom; Alles was Odem hat, D-Bds; Ott Meer ist nahe, B; Die Liebe Gottes ist ausgezogen, B, ed. in SBA; Kein Stündlein geht dahin, B
Magnificat, B; Herzlich lieb hab ich dich (Ps xviii), B; Mass [Ky-Gl] on Es wolle Gott uns gnädig sein, Bds
Sammlung auserlesener Fabeln, i (Nuremberg, 1749) [pt.ii lost], ed. in DDT, xlii (1910)
11 motets, ARk (? by C.P.E. Bach, H865]
3 Sonaten, vn, bc, pt.. (Eisenach, 1770)
3 Sonaten, vn, bc, pt.2 (Eisenach, 1772)
2 fantasias and fugues, F, d. ed. D. Hellmann, Orgelwerke der Familie Bach (Leipzig, 1967)
Sonatas, kbd: A, B; D, ed. in NM, ii (1927); F, in Oeuvres mâlées (Nuremberg, 1755-65), vi [also attrb. C.P.E. Bach, H383-5]; f, ed. K. Geiringer, Music of the Bach Family (Cambridge, Mass. 1955); G, in J.U. Haffer, Oeuvres mâlées (Nuremberg, 1755-65), vi
10 organ chorales