5 Things We Learned About Musical Genius & Jailbird Johann Sebastian Bach

You may know that Johann Sebastian Bach is one of history's most beloved composers, but did you know he did prison time too? Professor Robert Greenberg, host of "Scandalous Overtures" on Ora.TV, schools us on the bad boy side of Bach.
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You may know that Johann Sebastian Bach is one of history's most beloved composers, but did you know he did prison time too? Professor Robert Greenberg, host of "Scandalous Overtures" on Ora.TV, schools us on the bad boy side of Bach.

Happy 330th birthday to Johann Sebastian Bach! Today he is one of the world’s most beloved composers, but Bach wasn’t quite as beloved in his time as you might think. In Bach: The Jailbird, I examine the less popular tale of Bach’s time in prison for insubordination while he was making his way up the musical ranks in Germany.

And did you know. . .

1. Bach fathered 20 children – four of whom followed in their father’s footsteps to become famous composers themselves.

A portrait of Bach at age 61. (Photo: Elias Gottlob Haussmann [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

A portrait of Bach at age 61. (Photo: Elias Gottlob Haussmann [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

2. Bach was only considered the third best musician in Weimar. He was kept from the top slot of cappelmeister by father-son duo Samuel and Wilhelm Drese.

3. Musicians were considered working class in the 1700s, and were subject to the whim of their royal employers – something Bach learned the hard way.

4. Bach started his masterpiece, The Well-Tempered Clavier, while in jail – he was in prison for nearly a month.

5. After his release from prison, Bach was fired and left Weimar to become the top dog cappelmeister in the northern German state of Anhalt-Kothen.

Get up close and personal with the bad boys of classical music by checking out the full episode of Scandalous Overtures with Prof. Robert Greenberg on Ora.TV!