The New International Encyclopædia/Bach

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BACH, bäG. The name of a family originating in Wechmar, near Gotha, Thuringia, famous in music and presenting the most remarkable instance of hereditary genius in all history. In seven generations, there are found to be 49 musicians, 20 of whom, from Veit Bach (died 1619) down to Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach (died, Berlin, 1845), have been more or less prominent musically, and one of them, Johann Sebastian Bach, is one of the great masters of music and the greatest of the Contrapuntal School. Veit Bach was a baker by trade, but devoted much of his spare time to zither-playing. The best-known of the early Bachs was Johann Christoph, son of Heinrich and a great-grandson of Veit. This Johann Christoph (1642-1703) was one of the important composers and organists of the Seventeenth Century, far surpassing his German contemporaries. None of his works were published, and many are lost; but his choral compositions (MSS. in the Berlin Royal Library) prove him the forerunner of Johann Sebastian and Handel.