Johann Sebastian Bach

Biography

Born: 1685   Died: 1750   Country: Germany   Period: Baroque
Johann Sebastian Bach was better known as a virtuoso organist than as a composer in his day. His sacred music, organ and choral works, and other instrumental music had an enthusiasm and seeming freedom that concealed immense rigor. Bach's use of counterpoint was brilliant and innovative, and the immense complexities of his compositional style -- which often included religious and numerological symbols that seem to fit perfectly together in a Read more profound puzzle of special codes -- still amaze musicians today. Many consider him the greatest composer of all time.

Bach was born in Eisenach in 1685. He was taught to play the violin and harpsichord by his father, Johann Ambrosius, a court trumpeter in the service of the Duke of Eisenach. Young Johann was not yet ten when his father died, leaving him orphaned. He was taken in by his recently married oldest brother, Johann Christoph, who lived in Ohrdruf. Because of his excellent singing voice, Bach attained a position at the Michaelis monastery at Lüneberg in 1700. His voice changed a short while later, but he stayed on as an instrumentalist. After taking a short-lived post in Weimar in 1703 as a violinist, Bach became organist at the Neue Kirche in Arnstadt (1703-1707). His relationship with the church council was tenuous as the young musician often shirked his responsibilities, preferring to practice the organ. One account describes a four-month leave granted Bach, to travel to Lubeck where he would familiarize himself with the music of Dietrich Buxtehude. He returned to Arnstadt long after was expected and much to the dismay of the council. He then briefly served at St. Blasius in Mühlhausen as organist, beginning in June 1707, and married his cousin, Maria Barbara Bach, that fall. Bach composed his famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 565) and his first cantatas while in Mühlhausen, but quickly outgrew the musical resources of the town. He next took a post for the Duke of Sachsen-Weimar in 1708, serving as court organist and playing in the orchestra, eventually becoming its leader in 1714. He wrote many organ compositions during this period, including his Orgel-Büchlein. Owing to politics between the Duke and his officials, Bach left Weimar and secured a post in December 1717 as Kapellmeister at Cöthen. In 1720, Bach's wife suddenly died, leaving him with four children (three others had died in infancy). A short while later, he met his second wife, soprano Anna Magdalena Wilcke, whom he married in December 1721. She would bear 13 children, though only five would survive childhood. The six Brandenburg Concertos (BWV 1046-51), among many other secular works, date from his Cöthen years. Bach became Kantor of the Thomas School in Leipzig in May 1723 and held the post until his death. It was in Leipzig that he composed the bulk of his religious and secular cantatas. Bach eventually became dissatisfied with this post, not only because of its meager financial rewards, but also because of onerous duties and inadequate facilities. Thus, he took on other projects, chief among which was the directorship of the city's Collegium Musicum, an ensemble of professional and amateur musicians who gave weekly concerts, in 1729. He also became music director at the Dresden Court in 1736, in the service of Frederick Augustus II; though his duties were vague and apparently few, they allowed him freedom to compose what he wanted. Bach began making trips to Berlin in the 1740s, not least because his son Carl Philipp Emanuel served as a court musician there. In May 1747, the composer was warmly received by King Frederick II of Prussia, for whom he wrote the gloriously abstruse Musical Offering (BWV 1079). Among Bach's last works was his 1749 Mass in B minor. Besieged by diabetes, he died on July 28, 1750. Read less
Bach & Telemann / Crowe, Florilegium
Release Date: 11/11/2008   Label: Channel Classics  
Catalog: 27208   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Florilegium
Release Date: 12/09/2014   Label: Channel Classics  
Catalog: 35914   Number of Discs: 2
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J.S. Bach: Double & Triple Concertos / Podger, Bellamy, Pramsohler, Brecon Baroque
Release Date: 06/11/2013   Label: Channel Classics  
Catalog: 34113   Number of Discs: 1
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J. S. Bach Arranged for Guitars
Release Date: 11/12/2013   Label: Channel Classics  
Catalog: 34713   Number of Discs: 1
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Guardian Angel - Biber, Bach, Tartini & Pisendel / Rachel Podger
Release Date: 11/12/2013   Label: Channel Classics  
Catalog: 35513   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Italian Concerto, BWV 971

Browse 1-25 of 157 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Alfred Brendel: Complete Philips Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002434302 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 114
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Alfred Brendel,  Imogen Cooper,  Sylvia McNair,  Eduard Brunner  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Bernard Haitink,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Bach's Greatest Hits / Royal Festival Orchestra, Bowles
    Label: Stradivarius   Catalog: 6233 Release Date: 01/22/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Sarah Ainsworth,  Elizabeth Pendoff,  John Barrs
    Conductor:  William Bowles
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Festival Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Glenn Gould Remastered: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 503222 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 81
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Glenn Gould,  Elizabeth Benson-Guy,  Donald Gramm,  Charles Bressler  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Walter Susskind,  Vladimir Golschmann,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  CBC Symphony Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Symphonia String Quartet  ... 
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  • 4.
    Johann Sebastian Bach: Baroque Marimba
    Label: Stone Records   Catalog: 8057 Release Date: 10/02/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Stanislao Marco Spina
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  • 5.
    Bach: Italian Concerto; Chromatic Fantasia; French Overture; 4 Duets
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 550561 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Scott Ross
    CD: $12.99
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  • 6.
    Baroque Moments / Amadeus Guitar Duo
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8573440 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  César Franck  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Guitar Duo
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  • 7.
    Cyprien Katsaris: The Sony Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875050462 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Frédéric Chopin,  Josef Gelinek,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris
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    CD: $23.99
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  • 8.
    Bach: Concerto Italien; Capriccio; Sinfonia; Partita; Invention; Fantasie Chromatique & Fugue
    Label: Mirare   Catalog: 264 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Claire-Marie le Guay
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  • 9.
    Concerto Italiano / Ensemble Dix
    Label: Querstand   Catalog: 1403 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Nino Rota,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Antonio Pasculli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble diX
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  • 10.
    Bach Imagine / Jean Rondeau
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 622009 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean Rondeau
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  • 11.
    Bach: Italian Concerto, Partita No 2 / Burkard Schliessmann
    Label: Divine Art   Catalog: 25751 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Burkard Schliessmann
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  • 12.
    Johann Sebastian Bach: Clavier-ubung Ii & Iii; French Overture, Bwv 831; Italian Concerto, Bwv 971; Four Duets, Bwv 802-805
    Label: Musica Omnia   Catalog: 508 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Peter Watchorn
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  • 13.
    Sviatoslav Richter - Complete Decca, Philips & DG Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002236002 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter,  Mikhail Kopelman,  Valentin Berlinsky,  Mstislav Rostropovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Wislocki,  Kurt Sanderling,  Witold Rowicki,  János Ferencsik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moragues Woodwind Quintet members,  Borodin String Quartet,  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $167.98
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  • 14.
    Bach: Italian Concerto; French Overture; Aria Variata / Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002170202 Release Date: 10/07/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
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  • 15.
    Bach: Complete Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 1116165 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 142
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Remy Baudet,  Theunis Van der Zwart,  Erwin Wieringa,  Pieter-Jan Belder  ... 
    Conductor:  Pieter-Jan Belder,  Ludwig Güttler,  Thomas Zehetmair,  Kurt Masur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Amphion,  Virtuosi Saxoniae,  Amsterdam Bach Soloists  ... 
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  • 16.
    My Personal Favorites: Jacques Loussier Plays Bach
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 35319 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jacques Loussier Trio
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  • 17.
    Bach: Werke fur Cembalo / Hans Pischner
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300570 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hans Pischner,  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Max Michailow  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling,  Helmut Koch,  Kurt Redel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Chamber Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle
    CD: $34.99
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  • 18.
    A Bach Recital / Penelope Thwaites
    Label: Classics Labels   Catalog: 70027 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Penelope Thwaites
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  • 19.
    Journeys Of The Soul - From Bach To Balakirev / Barbara Nissman
    Label: Three Oranges Recordings   Catalog: 5638269058 Release Date: 04/02/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Maurice Ravel,  Franz Liszt,  Alexander Scriabin  ... 
    Performer:  Barbara Nissman
    CD: $24.99
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  • 20.
    Bach Masterworks - The Original Jackets Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001929902 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hertha Töpper,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Maria Stader,  Ernst Haefliger  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Rainer Kussmaul,  Reinhard Goebel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir,  English Baroque Soloists  ... 
    CD: $117.99
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  • 21.
    Erato - 50 CD Collection
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 46441 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Pierre Pierlot,  Paul Hongne,  Jacques Chambon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jean-François Paillard,  Frigyes Sándor,  Kent Nagano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Soloists  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 22.
    J. S. Bach In The Italian Style / James Tibbles
    Label: Atoll Records (New Zealand)   Catalog: 509 Release Date: 09/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  James Tibbles,  Jenny Thomas
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  • 23.
    Bach: Concerti, Capriccio & Aria
    Label: Aeon   Catalog: 1111 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Olivier Cavé
    CD: $18.99
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  • 24.
    The Complete Keyboard Works Of J.s. Bach, Vol. 6
    Label: Labor Records   Catalog: 7013 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Joao Carlos Martins
    CD: $17.99
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  • 25.
    Harpsichord Album
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1078 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Robert Aldwinckle
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