The Genius of J. S. Bach

1 day, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Portrait of J. S. Bach

The composer of some of the most famous works of the classical repertoire, Johann Sebastian Bach has influenced perhaps more composers than any other figure in classical music. But he lived a quiet life, surrounded by the family he loved, and little-known in greater musical circles. This one-day course examines Bach’s life and music, illustrated by portraits, readings from his letters, and examples of his music. No musical knowledge is necessary.

Course Outline

Session 1

  • What do we think of when we think of Bach?
  • Bach’s Place in History
  • Bach’s Musical Style
  • Historical and Social Background: The Baroque Period
  • Keyboard instruments in the baroque period

Session 2

  • The Early Years (1685-1708)
  • Weimar (1708-1717)
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Session 3

  • Köthen (1717-1723)
  • The Well-Tempered Clavier
  • The Brandenburg Concertos
  • The Violin Concertos
  • The Cello Suites

Session 4

  • Leipzig (1723-1750)
  • The Anna Magdalena Notebook
  • Bach’s Cantatas
  • The St Matthew and St John Passions
  • The Mass in B Minor
  • The Coffee Cantata
  • A Musical Offering
  • The Goldberg Variations
  • The Art of Fugue
Book cover The Genius of J. S. Bach

Buy the course notes for this class

In hard copy book form, through Lulu Press
$18 + postage


“Course was packed with information and presented in a very interesting way with many practical examples and illustrations. Very easy to follow and remember and enjoyable to listen to”

“This course is fascinating and thoroughly absorbing. I learnt a great deal. Susan is a gifted teacher”

“We immensely enjoyed your presentation on Bach last Saturday. It was fascinating in all its aspects, and the use of visual and sound effects, as well as examples on the piano, was outstanding”

“Susan Deas is always very good and communicative presenter, making the day very interesting and entertaining”

“Excellent clear teaching method – well paced with good examples to demonstrate points being made. Very enjoyable. Thank you!”


About Susan Deas

Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching music appreciation courses for more than twenty years, through Sydney University's Centre for Continuing Education, WEA Sydney and at other venues. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan teaches piano and music theory to adults and children, and plays piano and organ at various venues around Sydney. Susan is an accredited piano teacher and musicianship teacher, and is on the Council of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW.

More about Susan's qualifications

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Susan's other music courses