Badass Bach the Brawler,
One of the most famous composers of the baroque period, J. S. Bach is known for famous classical works such as the Brandenburg Concerto’s, the Goldberg Variations, and hundreds of popular cantatas. Yet few would guess today that Bach, portrayed in portraits as a powdered whig gentleman, was a hardcore badass that kicked butt in his early youth.
Born in Eisenbach, Germany in 1685, Bach was orphaned at the age of 10. He had a rough and tumble education, attending a school where the teachers were sadists and the students were akin to 17th century gangsters. It was in his youth he learned to fight, either protecting himself from bullies, muggers, or fellow musicians who attempted to soil his reputation and honor.
By the age of 20, Bach was a brawler who had served a short stint in jail after insulting one of his instructors. It was then that he was hired by St. Boniface’s Church in Amstadt to direct the choir, mostly of young men who were much older than him. Among the choir was a particularly bad bassoonist named Geyersbach. In frustration, Bach called Geyersbach a “nanny-goat bassoonist”. Infuriated, Geyersbach stormed out of the hall.
Later that day Bach was enjoying an ale in a tavern with his cousin and five other students when Geyersbach approached him, called him a “dirty dog”, then produced a club and slammed it against Bach’s skull. Bach, in a daze, drew his rapier and disarmed Geyersbach, who then fell upon Bach, whereupon they both tumbled to the ground. For the next several minutes Bach and Geyersbach grappled on the ground, trading punches, pummels, and headbutts. Finally, the brawl ended when Bach’s friends separated the two fighters.
After the fight, relations between his employer (St. Boniface’s Church) soured. In addition Bach earned the ire of local law enforcement officials when he instigated more brawls and duels. In 1706, Bach moved on to greener pastures, taking a high paying job at St. Balsius’ in Muhlhausen. From there, Bach would mellow out, learn how to make a living as a musician without getting in brawls, and become one of the greatest composers in history.