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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: The Art of Fugue / Angela Hewitt
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67980   Number of Discs: 2
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Glenn Gould - The Complete Bach Collection
Release Date: 10/30/2012   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 196114   Number of Discs: 44
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Bach: St. Matthew Passion / Kozena, Padmore, Rattle
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Berlin Philharmonic  
Catalog: 140021   Number of Discs: 3
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Bach: The Six French Suites / Sergey Schepkin
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30046   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: St. John Passion / Kozena, Padmore, Rattle
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Berlin Philharmonic  
Catalog: 140031   Number of Discs: 3
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Work: Italian Concerto, BWV 971

Browse 26-50 of 175 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    The Complete Bach Edition
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 664202 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 154
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Max van Egmond,  Kurt Equiluz,  Paul Esswood,  Walter Gampert  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Ton Koopman,  Jaap Schröder  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Chorus Viennensis,  Vienna Boys' Choir  ... 
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  • 27.
    Label: Triton (Octavia)   Catalog: 5021 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
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  • 28.
    Bach & Vivaldi / Rinaldo Alessandrini, Concerto Italiano [6-CD Set]
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 30530 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Benedetto Marcello,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Alessandro Marcello
    Performer:  Rinaldo Alessandrini,  Riccardo Minasi,  Luca Peverini,  Antonio De Secondi  ... 
    Conductor:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Italiano
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  • 29.
    The Rough Guide To Classical Composers: Bach (With Bonus Cd: Angela Hewitt Plays Bach)
    Label: Music Rough Guides   Catalog: 331241 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Steven Isserlis,  Angela Hewitt,  Johannette Zomer,  Thomas Schmogner
    Conductor:  Roy Goodman,  Harry Christophers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brandenburg Consort,  The Sixteen,  Purcell Quartet  ... 
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  • 30.
    Murray Perahia Plays Bach Concertos
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 782429 Release Date: 07/19/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  David Miller,  Murray Perahia,  Jakob Lindberg,  Kenneth Sillito  ... 
    Conductor:  Murray Perahia
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 31.
    Kenneth Gilbert, Harpsichord & Organ - A Film By Michel Follin
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 9909036 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  François Couperin,  Johann Jacob Froberger
    Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert
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  • 32.
    Johann Sebastian Bach: Clavier Ubung II / Benjamin Alard
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 180 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
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  • 33.
    Le Temple De La Musique Ancienne - Bach / Landowska
    Label: Paradizo   Catalog: 9 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Wanda Landowska
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  • 34.
    Miku Nishimoto-neubert Plays Bach
    Label: Solo Musica   Catalog: 154 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Miku Nishimoto-Neubert
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  • 35.
    Bach Highlights
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300202 Release Date: 04/12/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ferruccio Busoni
    Performer:  Christine Schornsheim,  Violetta Liebsch,  Armin Thalheim,  Mechtild Stark  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmut Koch,  Martin Flämig,  Burkhard Glaetzner,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Neues Bachisches Collegium
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  • 36.
    Bach: Italian Concerto, French Overture; Organ Arrangements / Hansjorg Albrecht
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 634 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hansjörg Albrecht
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  • 37.
    Andras Schiff Plays Bach
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2058138 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  András Schiff
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  • 38.
    Andras Schiff Plays Bach [Blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2058134 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  András Schiff
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  • 39.
    Baroque / Alexandre Tharaud
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908379 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  François Couperin,  Jacques Duphly,  Jean-Philippe Rameau  ... 
    Performer:  Alexandre Tharaud
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  • 40.
    Bach: Complete Keyboard Concertos / Schiff, Serkin, CO Of Europe [4-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001479702 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  András Schiff,  Peter Serkin,  Bruno Canino,  Aurèle Nicolet  ... 
    Conductor:  András Schiff
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
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  • 41.
    Solomon Plays Beethoven, Schumann, Bach & Chopin
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 23422 Release Date: 09/28/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Solomon
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  • 42.
    Bach / Angela Hewitt
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 44421 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Angela Hewitt
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  • 43.
    Bach: Clavier-Ubung II / Pascal Dubreuil
    Label: Ramee   Catalog: 1001 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pascal Dubreuil
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  • 44.
    Bach: Arias Ensemble Amarillis, La Maitrise De Colmar
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 198 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Violaine Cochard,  Anne-marie Lasia
    Conductor:  Arlette Steyer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amarillis,  Colmar Choir
    CD: $12.99
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  • 45.
    Great Singers And Musicians In Copenhagen, 1931-1939
    Label: Danacord   Catalog: 691/96 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Wagner,  Bedrich Smetana,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Anny Konetzni,  Lauritz Melchior,  Zedenka Zikova,  Viorica Tango  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Weisbach,  Nicolai Malko,  Bruno Walter,  Egisto Tango  ... 
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  • 46.
    Label: Musicus   Catalog: 5637636053 Release Date: 06/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Anton Rubinstein,  Sergei Prokofiev,  David Rubinstein  ... 
    Performer:  David Rubinstein
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  • 47.
    William Appling Plays Scott Joplin And J.S. Bach
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1163 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Scott Joplin
    Performer:  William Appling
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  • 48.
    Piano Masterworks - The World's Favourite Piano Classics - Bach, Debussy, Etc / Argerich, Arrau, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: B001206502 Release Date: 12/16/2009   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  András Schiff,  Andrei Gavrilov,  Friedrich Gulda,  Wilhelm Kempff  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Eliahu Inbal,  Horst Stein,  Zubin Mehta  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 49.
    J.s. Bach: Harpsichord Recital
    Label: Warner Brothers   Catalog: 4697091 Release Date: 12/01/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Scott Ross
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  • 50.
    Bach: 7 Keyboard Concertos / Vladimir Feltsman, Orchestra Of St. Luke's, Et Al
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 2541 Release Date: 10/13/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Vladimir Feltsman
    Conductor:  Vladimir Feltsman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
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