Johann Sebastian Bach was the first great musician to disregard the rules of harmony and rhythm that were strictly followed by other composers. This fact alone helped to make him the forerunner of musical composition as we know it today. Born the son of a violinist in Eisenach, Germany, in 1685, he received his first musical training on the violin.
At the age of 10, he went to live in the home of his brother Christoph, who taught Johann to play the harpsichord and the organ. It was also at this time that Bach began school, where his boy-soprano voice was greatly admired and appreciated. When his voice changed, Bach concentrated on the violin; but the organ soon took his interest, and he decided to devote himself to church music.
At the age of 18, Bach became the organist at Arnstadt and began his work in musical composition. After a short period of time, he moved to Muhlhausen where he married his cousin, Maria Bach. At Muhlhausen he began to experiment with changes in the music used in the church services of the German Protestant Church. It was also during this time that he began to become somewhat well known. It was this that gained for him the position as court organist and violinist to the duke at Weimar, where he remained for about nine years.
During this nine-year period, he wrote many cantatas for the Church, suites for the clavichord and harpsichord, and fugues (musical compositions in which the first melody is continually repeated and imitated throughout the entire piece). In fact, because he wrote so many fugues for the organ and piano, he is often called "the Great Master of the Fugue."
His next position at Köthen was during the period in which he produced much of his orchestral music and music for the clavichord and harpsichord. In 1720 his wife died; and a year later he married Anna Wulken, who was also a musician. She evidently helped him considerably in his work.
In 1723 Bach went to Leipzig as music director of the Thomas-schule. During his stay at Leipzig, he wrote many of his church cantatas and oratorios. Among these is his famous Christmas Oratorio. In 1749 Bach became totally blind; and in the following year, 1750, he died.
Historians tell us that Bach did not seem to associate very much with other musicians and was far more interested in his family of 20 children and in composing and directing his church choirs than in becoming "famous." In addition to his almost unequaled skill as a composer, he also was an excellent organ builder, as well as an expert music copyist.
Since most of his life was spent within a few miles of his birthplace, we also now know that Bachs music was not widely known throughout the world during his lifetime. In fact, many of Bachs most beautiful works were unpublished and unperformed for almost 100 years, until two later composers (Mendelssohn and Schumann) discovered the beauties of his music and began to perform them and make them known to the world.
Stanley Yates enjoys an accomplished career as a virtuoso performer and recording artist, arranger, scholar, and teacher. Described as "one of an elite breed of guitarists" ( Classical Guitar Magazine, England), praised for his "musical instinct and brilliant technique" (Suonare, Italy), and noted for the "transcendent quality of his interpretation" (Fort Worth Star Telegram, USA), Stanley's performances, recordings and editions have been received with wide critical acclaim.
A past prize-winning performer in such prestigious competitions as the Myra Hess (London) and the Guitar Foundation of America, Stanley is regularly invited to present concerts, masterclasses, and lectures at leading music schools and festivals in both the United States and Europe. He has been dedicatee and/or first performer of music by such leading guitar composers as Stepan Rak, John Duarte and Angelo Gilardino, and has given first modern performances of such rediscovered works as the Premier Concerto by Ernest Shand