Johann Ernst Bach

(1722 - 1777)

German composer and organist. Only son of Johann Bernhard Bach. Became a scholar of St Thomas's school in Leipzig and while there lived with and was taught by Johann Sebastian, his godfather. Apparently he was not very successful at school, possessing the Bach predeliction for exceeding a leave of absence that so often caused trouble with the authorities, which in Ernst's case resulted in his dismissal from the alumnate. However, he stayed on in Leipzig, probably boarding with his godfather, and eventually he matriculated at the University in law. But he was not permitted to finish his studies, for by the end of 1741 his father father requested that he return to Eisenach.This was a hard blow for the ambitious youth. There was a great difference between the stimulating atmosphere in Sebastian's home, with its stream of visiting artists and enthusiastic disciples, and life in provincial Eisenach; a difference all the more noticeable since the court orchestra, on which Ernst had apparently counted, was disbanded in 1741 owing to the fusion of the little principality of Eisenach with that of Weimar. Ernst wrote about "annoying conditions" and his kinsman, Elias, probably prompted by Sebastian, had to admonish him as follows: "It seems to me necessary and advisable for you to bear for some time with the solitude there, in order to assist your honest old Papa, for, as the Herr Kapellmeister [Sebastian] assured me, the post of organist in Eisenach carries an income that can support an honest man." Ernst followed the advice, assisting his father competently, and when Bernhard died in 1749, the position was, as a matter of course, conferred on the son. Thus Sebastian had the pleasure of seeing yet another highly gifted student of his well settled. In 1756 he was appointed honorary Kapellmeister at Weimar with a pension. Pieces by Johann Ernst (as the "Capellmeister Bach in Eisenach") were published in Musikalisches Vielerly (1770) by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, together with the latter's own compositions and those of Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (as the "Concertmeister Bach in Bückeberg.") He left many other works in manuscript.

VIID: Chamber and Keyboard Music up to Rameau