Why Johann Sebastian Bach Once Brawled With His Students

Johann Sebastian Bach is regarded as one of the best composers of the Baroque period. He came from a German family of musicians, and aside from being a composer, he was also lauded for his exceptional skills in playing the organ and harpsichord (via Britannica). In 1703, when Bach was 18 years old, he started his new job at the New Church in Arnstadt where he was hired as a church organist. That wasn't his only job, however, as church officials also gave him the task of teaching a few musicians, which he wasn't so happy about.

Bach didn't like teaching, and to add to that, the group of students he was tasked to train were hard to manage. According to Wisconsin Public Radio, most of the students were also older than Bach, which made it hard for them to see the musical prodigy as an authority figure. For a couple of years, Bach bickered and exchanged words with most of the students, even calling one of his trainees a "nanny goat bassoonist."

Johann Sebastian Bach and Geyersbach brawl

When Johann Sebastian Bach was 20 years old, he got into a fight with one of his pupils. He was walking on the street with his cousin, Barbara Catharina, when they spotted a group of his students hanging out at the market square. One of them, Geyersbach, approached Bach holding a large stick. He apparently had a bone to pick with Bach as he was the bassoonist that he berated, per Classic FM. The two had a heated confrontation, and Geyersbach started hitting his teacher with the stick. At that time, Bach was typically on the receiving end of verbal assaults, so he always carried a dagger in his pocket in case things escalated. He reached for the dagger but Geyersbach saw it and tackled him. The two hit each other while rolling on the ground, and the other students pulled them apart to stop the brawl.

Bach approached the church court and requested for Geyersbach to be disciplined for his actions. Catharina testified about the events, but Geyersbach countered that he only attacked Bach as he called him a "nanny goat bassoonist." In the end, Geyersbach wasn't punished and Bach was told to put more effort into getting along with his unruly students. He taught them for a little while longer before eventually getting out of his teaching responsibilities, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.