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The 20 Children of Johann Sebastian Bach


Bach did indeed have twenty children by two wives, but the reality of their family life was not always merry. Life was hard in the 18th century.

Here is the accounting of those twenty children:
- ten died in early childhood
- one son died of unknown causes as a young adult
- one son was mentally disabled
- three daughters remained unmarried and died in poverty
- one daughter married a pupil of Bach's
- four sons became successful musicians and composers

All four sons mostly ignored the widowed Anna Magadalena Bach, and she, too died in poverty ten years after her husband.

The numbers 1–20 indicate the chronological order of the births.


Died as Children

With Maria Barbara Bach

b. October 20, 1684

m. October 17, 1707

d. July 7, 1720

died of unknown causes
while Bach was away

3. Maria Sophia (twin)

Feb 23–March 15, 1713

4. Johann Christoph (twin)

Died at birth Feb 23, 1713

7. Leopold Augustus

1718–1719

With Anna Magdalena Wilcke

b September 22, 1701

m. December 3, 1721

d.February 22, 1760

died in poverty ten years

after her husband's death

8. Christiana Sophia Henrietta

1723–1726

10. Christian Gottlieb

1725–1728

12. Ernestus Andreas

Oct 30–Nov 1, 1727

13. Regina Johanna

1728–1733

14. Christiana Benedicta

Jan 1–Jan 4, 1730

15. Christiana Dorothea

1731–1732

17. Johann August Abraham

Nov 5–Nov 6, 1733

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Lived to Adulthood

With Maria Barbara Bach

1. Catharina Dorothea

1708–1774

unmarried, died in poverty

2. Wilhelm Friedemann

1710-1784

organist/composer

5. Johann Gottfried Bernhard

1715–1739

organist

unsuccessful as a musician,
he died under unknown circumstances

6. Carl Philipp Emanuel

1714–1788

composer & kappelmeister
the most reknowned of the
four composer sons

With Anna Magdalena Wilcke

9. Gottfried Heinrich

1724–1763

mentally disabled

11. Elisabeth Juliana Friderica

1726–1781
known as “Lieschen”

married Bach’s pupil,

Johann Christoph Altnikol

16. Johann Christoph Friedrich

1732–1795

composer / kappelmeister

18. Johann Christian

1735–1782

composer /
lived in London where he briefly
was a teacher of Mozart

19. Johanna Carolina

1737–1781

unmarried, died in poverty

20. Regina Susanna

1742-1809

unmarried, died in poverty

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© 2007-2016 David Gordon


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