The Bach family lived from the early 16th cent. in the Thuringian duchies of Saxe‐Weimar‐Eisenach, Saxe‐Coburg‐Gotha, and Saxe‐Meiningen and the principality of Schwarzburg‐Arnstadt. Their profession was mus.—there are records that 53 Bachs held posts as organists, cantors, or town musicians over a span of 300 years. J. S. Bach himself compiled a genealogy of his family, which began, as far as his own line was concerned, with Veit Bach (d 1619), a miller with a passion for lute‐playing. Other prin. members of the family up to J. S. Bach's time were:
Hans Bach (bc.1550; d 1626). Violinist, son of Veit, and known as Der Spielmann (The Player). Carpet‐weaver by trade. Johann Bach (b 1604; d 1673). Eldest son of Hans. Organist at Schweinfurt and Erfurt. Christoph Bach (b 1613; d 1661). 2nd son of Hans. Organist and composer. Town‐musician at Eisenach. Heinrich Bach (b Wechmar, 1615; d Arnstadt, 1692). 3rd son of Hans. Arnstadt church organist for 51 years. Johann Christian Bach (b Erfurt, 1640; d Erfurt, 1682). Eldest son of Johann. Served under his father among town musicians of Erfurt but became first of family to settle at Eisenach where he married. Returned to Erfurt to succeed his father 1671. Johann Egidius Bach (b 1645; d 1716). 2nd son of Johann. Organist at Erfurt and composer of church mus., also va.‐player. Georg Christoph Bach (b Eisenach, 1642; d 1697). Eldest son of Christoph. Cantor at Schweinfurt. Composer. Johann Christoph Bach (1) (b Arnstadt, 1642; d Eisenach, 1703). Eldest son of Heinrich. Became organist at Eisenach at age 23 in 1665. Considered by C. P. E. Bach as ‘great and expressive’ composer. Many elaborate and progressive vocal works, also instr. comps. 2 motets for double ch., Herr nun Lassest and Ich lasse dich nicht are extremely fine. Johann Michael Bach (b Arnstadt, 1648; d Gehren, 1694). Brother of preceding. Organist and parish clerk of Gehren from 1673 until his death. Maker of vns. and hpds. His motets have high merit. The youngest of his 5 daughters, Maria Barbara (b 20 Oct. 1684), became J. S. Bach's first wife. Johann Ambrosius Bach (b Erfurt, 1645; d Eisenach, 1695). 2nd (twin) son of Christoph. Played vn. and va. in addition to org. One of Erfurt compagnie of musicians from 1667 until Oct. 1671 when he succeeded his cousin, Johann Christian, at Eisenach. There the youngest of his 8 children, Johann Sebastian, was born on 21 Mar. 1685. Johann Christoph Bach (2) (b Erfurt, 1645; d Arnstadt, 1693). Twin brother of Johann Ambrosius. Court violinist at Arnstadt, where he was Hofmusikus and Stadtpfeifer. Johann Jakob Bach (b Wolfsbehringen, 1655; d Ruhla, 1718). Org. in Thal, cantor in Steinbach. Johann Bernard Bach (b Erfurt, 1676; d Eisenach, 1749). Son of Johann Egidius. Organist at Erfurt and Magdeburg. In 1703 succeeded cousin Johann Christoph (1) at Eisenach and became Kammermusikus in court orch. of Duke of Saxe‐Eisenach. Instr. comps. admired and perf. at Leipzig by Johann Sebastian. Johann Nikolaus Bach (b Eisenach, 1669; d Eisenach, 1753). Eldest son of Johann Christoph (1). University and town organist at Jena from 1695 until death. Org.‐builder and maker of hpds., to which he contributed some improvements. Comp. orch. suites, church mus. and opera. Johann Ludwig Bach (b Thal, 1677; d Meiningen, 1731). Son of Johann Jakob. Composer and Kapellmeister at Saxe‐Meiningen. Johann Christoph Bach (3) (b Erfurt, 1671; d Ohrdruf, 1721). Eldest son of Johann Ambrosius, and brother of Johann Sebastian. Pupil of Pachelbel at Erfurt. Organist at Ohrdruf. Taught his brother the klavier. Johann Jakob Bach (b Eisenach, 1682; d Stockholm, 1722). Son of Johann Ambrosius and brother of Johann Sebastian. Town musician at Eisenach. Entered Swed. army service in 1704 as oboist and in 1713 became Hofmusikus at Stockholm. It was for his joining the army that Johann Sebastian comp. the Capriccio on the departure of his beloved brother (BWV 992).