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March 21: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Birthday

It’s Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday. Born on this day in 1685, Bach is recognized as one of history’s greatest composers. He became so popular and his compositions so beloved that, over the centuries, his reputation has been dutifully gilded and whitewashed, elevating him to a sort of dull, sinless saint. Only in the last 20 years has biographical research revealed he was a bit of a rogue with a powerful thirst for strong German beer. By examining his expense accounts, biographers determined he would drink the equivalent of 85 12-ounce cans of beer during a typical two week period. So, about a six pack a day. Looking through a modern lens, he’d be framed as a troubled genius with a serious drinking problem, but in 18th century Germany, well, that was considered pretty moderate drinking.