A big happy 333rd birthday to the OG Johann Sebastian Bach, arguably the greatest composer and most talented musician of all time. Dude was the original badass keys player, tearing up nasty improvs on the harpsichord or organ - even violin like it ain't no thing. JSB had the pedigree - he was the umpteenth generation of the legendary musical Bach family; he had the dedication - a young Johann was known to walk hundreds of miles (Uber had yet to be invented) to catch Buxtehude shredding organ solo gigs; and he had the skills that thrill. Bach would astound folks with his once-in-a-millennia abilities. Here's how it would usually go:
Viscount of Saxony: Twenty-four ducats to the man who can improvise a six-part fugue on a theme derived from my initials!
JSB: Hold my beer.
Royals (nodding along to sweet jams): Wow!
A favorite anecdote: Bach had twenty kids. Damn dude wrap it up! He also liked to take long baths, like a true diva. So his poor wife would be dealing with her prodigious prodigies - keeping their knickers clean, making gruel for lunch, trying to keep the kids from catching typhoid, yaknow 18th century stuff - and old Johann would be playing with his rubber ducky and making a bubble bath beard! But Mrs. Bach had an ingenious trick to get daddy out of the tub. She would go to the keyboard and play a scale "do-ra-me-fa-so-la-ti" and then stop before the final "do". Bach, his ears enraged, would jump out of the tub naked, race to the keys, and play the final note.
JSB's shadow looms large even centuries later; the VBs even paid homage to bro many years ago, courtesy of Sears Auto Center:
What's the best Bach? He was far too prolific to choose one piece, but his gorgeous and devastating Chaccone in D-minor for solo violin is a personal favorite, perhaps because VB buddy Buddha used to practice it all the time in college:
Look Max, it's Jascha Heifetz! Our boy and modern piano giant Brad Mehldau today released an album of Bach performances and original pieces inspired by JSB. Check it out, y'all!