Each day we immerse OURSELVES in THE enormous BODY OF work BEQUEATHED TO US BY the great masters. Few of us learn about their real lives, flaws, relationships or even their actual vocation! Below we present a few brief biographies.
Johan Sebastian Bach - (March 23,1685 - July 28, 1750, Eisenach, Germany). An orphan at age 10. A prodigy at 17. Married several times including his 2nd cousin (Maria Barbara Bach) in 1707. He eventually would sire 21 children. A self proclaimed 'coffee addict'. Earned his livelihood as a church organist. Began losing his sight to diabetes. The most prolific of the great masters when he died at 65. My Personal Favorite!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - (January 27, 1756 - Dec 5, 1791 Salzburg, Bavaria). One of 7 children. Wrote his first symphony at age 11. Spoke 15 languages. An equally talented sister. Ejected from the Court of Salzburg for vulgarity. Made a living as a court organist and composer. Friends include Haydn. Suffered from chronic rheumatic fever. Immensely superstitious. In Vienna, he married Costanza Weber (1782). Had a rather bad drinking habit. Likely poisoned to death. Buried in a mass grave at age 35.


Ludwig van Beethoven - (December 17, 1770 - March 24, 1827, Bonn, Germany). Eldest of three surviving boys. Replaced his abusive, alcoholic father as professional organist at 14. Earned livelihood playing in saloons and private parties for the wealthy. Immensely competitive. Quite arrogant. Bad temper. Frequently ill. Never married. Very prolific. Lost his hearing and still managed to compose often holding his ear to the floor to sense vibrations. His last words are reputed to state: "Friends applaud, the comedy has ended".


William Shakespeare - (April 1564 - April 23, 1616 Warwickshire, England). At 18 wed Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582 (She was 26). They stayed married until his death at age 52. The union produced three children; Susanna, Hamnet and Judith. He wrote 38 plays and 150 sonnets. Many feel that he gathered popular works unto himself and penned them though not necessarily as the author. It does seem inconceivable that such a volume of work could be accomplished in one lifetime... and all with a quill pen!


Antonio Stradivari - (1644 - 1737) An Italian luthier (maker of stringed instruments) who fashioned perhaps 1100 instruments in his lifetime of which 450 -  650 have survived. He was twice married and fathered 9 children. A brilliant if humble craftsman and devoted husband. These surviving and highly desirable creations have sold for as much as $15 million each. Even more, these valued instruments are widely known in the community by individual names such as: 'the Davidov', 'the Soil', 'the Swan' and the 'Lady Tennant' among many others. A number of his creations reside now in museums or have become the choice instruments of contemporary world class musicians such as 'Yo-Yo Ma' and 'Itzak Perlman'. 


Franz Liszt - (October 22, 1811  July 31, 1886) German composer born to Hungarian immigrants. Said to have been the greatest pianist that ever lived. The first rock star. 'Lisztomania' erupted in 1842. Women literally fought not only over his gloves but his companionship as well. He was quite wealthy and by 1857 was donating most of his performance fees. Grieved over the loss of two children. He was a true dynamo having completed some 1400 compositions while still managing  to travel more than 4000 miles annually and craft a biography of his friend 'Chopin'. Fell down a flight of stairs at the age of 69 finally passing at the age of 74.