by Gregory Wilbur
Johann Sebastian Bach was a musical genius, an intellectual giant, and a gracious man. His achievement in the area of music is one of the greatest tours de force in history - on par with or surpassing that of Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Dante, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Milton, Aristotle, Augustine, or Aquinas. Even more compelling is the fact that Bach intentionally wrote all of his music from a Christian perspective and for the glory of God.
Bach worked at a crucial time in history. He combatted the ideas of the Enlightenment with its elevation of human reason as the ultimate authority of everything. His struggles, musically and professionally, are those of a man seeking to maintain a high view of worship, academics, and the grounding of all life on the Word of God. As a man valiant in his convictions, he stood against the trends and fashions of his day and succeeded as a witness of the gospel to the generations who followed him.
Although orphaned at an early age, Bach grew up surrounded by a life of music and quickly distinguished himself as an avid learned and apt pupil. The majority of his career was as the cantor of Leipzig - a position that required him to teach school and provide music for the town's churches every week. During this period he wrote a tremendous amount of music and fought against Enlightenment ideas that sought to undermine church worship. And while his name conjures many images, musical phrases, and half-remembered stories, the life of this colossal genius provides practical lessons in leadership for both artists and anyone who strives to serve others with excellence and integrity.