Bach, Johann Sebastian

During the years at Leipsic, Bach developed his full creative powers and produced his greatest works. For the services of the Leipsic churches he was supposed to compose music, and for them he wrote his great series of cantatas, comprising not less than three hundred and eighty, providing one for every Sunday and festival for five years. Many of these were lost, but about two hundred and twenty-six were saved and published. During these years he also wrote his greatest work, The Passion-Music. According to some biographers, there were five of these, but we have left only three, the St. John, the St. Matthew and the St. Mark. There is also a St. Luke Passion, but much doubt exists as to whether Bach wrote it. Soon after going to Leipsic, Bach was made honorary conductor to the Duke of Weissenfels, receiving the salary without being obliged to attend the court. In 1736 he was made Royal Court composer to the King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. In 1747, after repeated invitations, Bach visited King Frederick the Great at Potsdam. He was received by the King with the greatest courtesy, was taken through the Palace, where he played on Frederick's collection of pianos, about fifteen in number; was invited to play on all the principal organs of the city and shown all the sights. After returning home, Bach composed and sent to the King The Musical Offering, worked  out on a theme written by the King himself. About a year before his death, Bach's eyesight began to fail and after two operations he became totally blind, but even after this he composed and dictated to his son-in-law one of his most beautiful chorales, When We in Sorest Trouble Are. About ten days before his death his sight returned. He died, July 25, 1750, at the age of sixty-five, of apoplexy. Bach was buried in St. John's churchyard in Leipsic. His grave was not marked, and when sometime afterward a road was made through the churchyard it was lost entirely. Professor Wilhelm His of Leipsic, in 1894, discovered a grave containing remains, which corresponded exactly to Bach's measurements. By covering the skull with wax, a portrait of the head was obtained, which agreed so closely with authentic portraits of the great musician that all doubts were set at rest and the remains were reinterred in a crypt, specially prepared, under the altar of the church. The reinterment took place, July 28, 1900, on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Bach's death.