Bach bäkh [key], German family of distinguished musicians who flourished from the 16th through the 18th cent., its most renowned member being Johann Sebastian Bach (see Bach, Johann Sebastian). Johannes or Hans Bach, c.1550–1626, was a Thuringian carpetweaver and a musical performer at festivals. His sons and descendants were noted organists and composers. One of his grandsons was Johann Ambrosius Bach, 1645–95, violinist, town musician at Eisenach, and father of Johann Sebastian Bach. Johann Sebastian's eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach, 1671–1721, was organist at Ohrdruf. When his parents died he took Johann Sebastian, his youngest brother, into his home and taught him. Of the 20 children of Johann Sebastian, several were well known as musicians. The eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, 1710–84, was made organist at the Sophienkirche in Dresden in 1733 and later (1746–64) organist and musical director at the Liebfrauenkirche in Halle. He was a brilliant organist and well-known composer, but he did not live up to his father's hopes and, after a dissolute life, he died in misery. A younger son was Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (see Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel), and the youngest son was Johann Christian Bach (see Bach, Johann Christian).

See P. Young, The Bachs (2 vol., 1978–79); C. Wolff et al., The New Grove Bach Family (1983).

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