Classical Guitar Studies: Bach Gavottes 1 & 2

The Early Life Of Bach Will Surprise You…

I like to play something by Bach every day and here I’m playing Gavottes 1 & 2 from his 3rd Lute Suite which is also the 5th Cello Suite.

Playing these pieces is a real workout and like anything written by the great German master, J.S. Bach, they’re challenging but great music.

Germany’s history is full of terrible wars that affected almost every generation but despite this, Germany is one one of the worlds high achievers and Bach could be seen as the emblem and standard bearer for Germany’s achievements.

Bach’s early life was quite tragic.

By all accounts school for him was like a war zone with rampant bullying and teachers that bordered on sadistic.

His parents had both died by the time he was 10 so he was raised by his older brother Johan Christoph who like their father, Johan Ambrosia was a professional musician.

J.S Bach

With most of the family as musicians it was inevitable that the young Johan Sebastian would follow in the family trade.

Despite the adversity in his early life he would go on to be one of the greatest musicians that ever lived.

Frederick Douglas’s famous quote “where there’s no struggle there’s no progress or strength” and the old saying “tough times don’t last but tough people do” seem to apply to J.S. Bach.

“where there’s no struggle there’s no progress or strength”

Frederick Douglas

“The Defenestration of Prague”

He was born in 1685 into a Europe that was still recovering from the “30 Years War” which was the worst that Europe would experience until the 20th century.

20% of Europe’s population died during or as a result of the 30 Years War.

“The Defenestration of Prague” may be the strangest cause that ever started a war, but it’s true.

The Czech Republic was known as Bohemia in those days with Prague as its capital.

The French word for window is “fenetre” so defenestration means “out the window”.

Defenestrations of PragueKarel Svoboda

The king of Bohemia sent 2 governors to rule Prague for him but the Protestants, known as Hussites, saw the discrimination coming and didn’t like what they were hearing so they decided to throw the 2 governors with their secretary out the window, which they did!

It seems they survived the fall because the street cleaners had piled horse dung under the window that the King’s men fell safely on.

The King was furious by the insult so the fighting began with the various European countries taking sides.

Denmark was first wanting to protect the Bohemian Protestants and from 1618 the war continued till 1648.

The Four Phases Of the European War

We divide the war into 4 phases, the Bohemian phase, the Danish Phase, the Swedish Phase and the French Phase.

With each phase the war became wider until most of Europe was involved.

France, although Catholic, sided with the Protestants because they felt threatened by Catholic Austria and Spain becoming too closely allied.

J.S. Bach has had an enormous influence on music down to today and then his sons would carry on creating great music.

His youngest son, Johan Christian, was 15 when his father died so he was raised by his older brother C.P.E. Bach who continued his musical education.

In his 20’s Johan Christian Bach moved to London and became known as “John Bach, the English Bach”.

Mozart at the age of 8 was taken by his father to London and there was taught by “John Bach” so like a relay race the baton was handed on from one generation to the next.

People travel from all over the world to visit artistic centres like Florence, Paris or Rome to see and experience masterpieces by masters like Michelangelo, Leonardo or Raphael.

Their masterworks are enormously popular but with Bach’s great masterpieces you don’t need to leave home to hear and experience them.

You can enjoy them from your armchair but if you learn to play an instrument yourself then you can experience Bach’s music at another level.

In a way you’d be involved in the creative process each time you play his pieces & you can play them any time you like.

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