Johann Sebastian Bach (b. Eisenach, March 21, 1685 - d. Leipzig, July 28, 1750)

Nicht Bach! Meer sollte er heissen: wegen seines unendlichen, unerschoepflichen Reichtums an Tonkombinationen und Harmonien." (Not "brook" [in German: Bach], but "sea" should he be called --- because of his infinite, inexhaustible richness in tone combinations and harmonies.) --- Ludwig van Beethoven

Wir sind alle Stuemper gegen ihn. (We're all plodders compared to him.) --- Robert Schumann

Studiert Bach! Dort findet ihr alles. (Study Bach, there you'll find everything.) --- Johannes Brahms

Das ist doch einmal etwas, woraus sich was lernen laesst! (At last, this is something I could learn from!) --- W. A. Mozart, upon hearing his first Bach composition.

[monogram of J.S.Bach] The "mysterious symbol" you see on Bach scores is in fact the composer's monogram. Under the crown you can clearly see (slanting almost 45 degrees downward) the calligraphed letters JSB; this design is superimposed on its mirror image.
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Some links for the Bach enthusiast

Aquarelle von Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Watercolor painting by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (dated 1838) of the Thomaskantorei in Leipzig. Original held by Sotheby's of London: low-resolution scan from p. 390 of Prof. Christoph Wolff's delightful book, "Johann Sebastian Bach: the learned musician" (W. W. Norton, 2000). The three windows on the first floor (European count) corner above the gate (through the old inner city walls) were almost certainly those of J. S. Bach's "Komponierstube" (composing studio). The Bach family apartments (only about 75 m2, including the Komponierstube!) were located on the ground and first floor. Historical photographs of the Thomaskantorei before its demolition in 1902 can be found here.

My personal JSB top ten:

Having to pick my ten favorite Bach works is truly "l'embarras de choix" (the embarrassment of riches). Let me try anyhow (in no particular order):

Some questions and answers not covered in Bernie Greenberg's excellent BachFAQ

Let us leave the last words to 20th-century composer Mauricio Kagel... "Es mag sein, dass nicht alle Musiker an G-tt glauben, an Bach jedoch alle." [Perhaps not all musicians believe in G-d, but all of them believe in Bach.]

... and to organist Helmut Walcha:
"Bach opens a vista onto the Universe. After hearing him, people feel there may be meaning to life after all."

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