I remember a saying that includes a jeu de mots in German: “Er soll nicht Bach heissen, er soll Meer genannt werden!”
I guess that is a fair indication of his importance as a (Baroque) composer. I “knew” Bach already in my younger years, because his name was on the scores of many Psalms and Hymns. I do remember the atmosphere of Good Friday, as reflected by the St. Matthews Passion, quite well!
Later (amongst others on the guitar) I found out that Bach was not merely the musical flagship of the Reformation, considering his enormous amount of secular compositions.
Bach’s life and work has been the subject of extensive study. Consequently, you will not find the most extensive biography below!
Bach was born in 1685 in Eisenach. He originated from a very musically gifted family and later it became obvious that his descendants continued this tradition. Bach became orphan at the age of nine and was brought up by his oldest brother who recognized his talents and took care of his musical training.
An eventful musical career brought him to Arnstadt, Mülhausen, Weimar, Anhalt-Köthen and Leipzig. In this period, he composed 1128 works, at least according to the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV), in a spectacular wide spectrum of instruments and ensembles.
Bach introduced the well-tempered tuning that enabled relatively accurate playing in all keys. This saved a lot of time for tuning instruments and increased the flexibility of musicianship, because tunings were no longer bound to individuals or regions. In his Wohltemperiertes Klavier Bach demonstrates this system for all 24 Major and Minor keys.
Bach passed away in Leipzig in 1750.