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Johann Michael Bach [14] (Composer)

Born: August 1648 (baptized: August 9, 1648) - Arnstadt, Thuringia, Germany
Died: May 17, 1694 - Gehren, Thuringia, Germany

The German composer, Johann Michael Bach [14], received a solid musical training from his father, Heinrich Bach [6], and from the Kantor in Arnstadt, Jonas de Fletin; the influence of the latter may account for his early interest in vocal music.

In 1665 Johann Michael Bach succeeded his brother Johann Christoph Bach [13] as organist of the Arnstadt castle chapel. After an audition on October 5, 1673 he succeeded J. Effier (who later preceded J.S. Bach [24] as castle organist in Weimar) as town organist in Gehren. He was also active as an instrument maker there and held the important administrative post of town clerk, remaining in Gehren until his death. On October 17, 1707 his youngest daughter, Maria Barbara Bach (b Gehren, October 20, 1684), married her distant cousin J.S. Bach in Dornheim.

A pamphlet issued by the Gehren council refers to Johann Michael Bach as a 'quiet, withdrawn and artistically well-versed subject'; within the family he was considered a 'capable composer' (Ursprung). As a composer, in fact, he is on almost the same level as his brother Johann Christoph Bach [13]. Especially in the chorale motet, the vocal form to which he almost exclusively devoted himself, he composed works of real significance. His convincing treatment of spoken declamation is particularly notable. As in his brother's music, the older, strongly homophonic style predominates; but in such works as Sei lieber Tag willkommen he turned to the new, freer style with melismatic passages. His works for double chorus stand firmly in the tradition of Heinrich Schütz, Samuel Scheidt and Michael Praetorius. His vocal concertos are less extended than those of his brother, but he too favoured full-textured orchestration. His arias with obbligato instruments are particularly charming; here, as in the concertos, his use of a virtuoso solo violin part is noteworthy. His organ chorales are typical of the central German tradition of practical settings in smooth counterpoint.


Arias: Ach, wie sehnlich wart ich der Zeit, S, vn, 3 va da gamba, be; Auf, lasst uns den Herm loben, A, vn, 3 va da gamba, be, ed. in SBA: both ed. in EDM, 1st ser., ii (1935)
Motets: Das Blut Jesu Christi, 5vv; Dem Menschen ist gesetzt einmal zu sterben, Svv; Fürchtet euch nicht, Svv; Herr du lässest mich erfahren, Svv; Herr ich warte auf dem Heil, Svv; Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe, 5vv; Ich weiss, das mein Erlöser lebt, 5vv; Nun hab ich überwunden, Svv; Sei lieber Tag willkommen, 6vv; Unser Leben währet siebenzig Jahr, 5vv: all ed. in EDM, 1st ser., i (1935), ed. in SBA; Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, Svv, ed. in DDT, xlix-I (1915); Halt, was du hast, Svv, ed. in EDM, 1st ser., i (1935); Sei nun wieder zufrieden, Svv; Unser Leben ist ein Schatten, 9vv: both ed. F. Naue (
Leipzig, n.d.)
Konzerte: Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ, 4vv, 2 vn, 3 va, be; Es ist ein grosser Gewinn, S, 4 vn, be: both ed. in EDM, 1st ser., ii (1935)
Dialogue: Liebster Jesu, hor mein FIehen, 5vv, 2 vn, 2 va, be, ed. in EDM, 1st ser., ii (1935)
Benedictus, 5vv, A-Wgm, cited by Eitner

72 org chorales, cited in GerberL, including Partita, Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein; Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot; Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist: all ed. D. Hellmann, Orgelwerke der Familie Bach (Leipzig, 1967); Wo Gott, der Herr, nicht bei uns hält, D-B; Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein, B; In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr, ed. in EDM, 1st ser., ix (1937); Nun freut euch lieben Christen gmein, B; Von Gott will ich nicht lassen, B
Ensemble sonatas, further kbd works cited in GerberL


Source: The New Grove Bach Family (Author: Christoph Wolff, MacMillan London, 1983)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2005)

Bach Family: Sorted by Name | Sorted by Number | Family Tree | Family History | Discussions

Works previously attributed to J.S. Bach

Chorale Prelude for organ In Dulci Jubilo (IV), BWV 751

Works in J.S. Bach's Library

Ach, wie sehnlich wart' ich der Zeit
Auf, laßt uns den Herren loben
Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr

Auf meinen lieben Gott, Cantata for SATB, 2 violins, bc [Lost, listed in Schweinfurt inventory, 1689]

Auf meinen lieben Gott

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, Chorale Prelude for Organ which used to be BWV 723

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ

Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn

Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

Chorale for Organ Nun laßt uns Gott dem herren oder Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe

Nun laßt uns Gott dem Herren

Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz, Chorale for organ

Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz

Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist, Cantata (lost)5 voices, instruments

Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist

Links to other Sites

HOASM: Johann Michael Bach
Johann Michael Bach (Wikipedia)

Bach, Johann Michael: Biography (Sojurn)


Schneider: Thematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke der Familie Bach, BJb, iv (1907), 109

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