(excerpts from the book, Bach, Beethoven and the Boys by David Barber)
All the years of practice, not to mention the walking tours, had made Bach into a terrific organist Once when playing a concert at the royal court of Cassel, he played an elaborate pedal solo so well that the crown prince took a ring off his finger and presented it to Bach. As one observer put it: "If the skill of his feet alone earned him such a gift, what might the Prince have given him had he used his hands as well?"
But through it all Bach remained the same humble man he'd always been. When someone complimented him on his playing, he once said: "There's nothing to it. You have to hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself." That's easy for him to say.
Along about this time, Bach became friends with Johann Gottfried Walther, an organist and lexicographer. He also won a public clavier-playing contest against the great French keyboard player Louis Marchand, who failed to show up. On the day of the contest, Marchand suddenly remembered he had important business out of town, You know how it is. (Ed. note: I believe that the same thing happened with a keyboard challenger to the young Beethoven. He heard Beethoven practicing the night before the competition and then skipped town.)