Johann Sebastian Bach


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
The Art of Bach / Anderson & Roe
Release Date: 01/13/2015   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30033   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations / Rosalyn Tureck
Release Date: 01/06/2015   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002234802   Number of Discs: 6
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Bach: The Art of Fugue / Angela Hewitt
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67980   Number of Discs: 2
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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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Milstein - Mozart, Brahms, Paganini, Bach, Et Al
Release Date: 07/08/2003   Label: Emi Classics  
Catalog: 90117   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Sheep may safely graze (Schafe können sicher weiden)

Browse 1-25 of 177 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Art of Bach / Anderson & Roe
    Label: Steinway & Sons   Catalog: 30033 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Greg Anderson,  Elizabeth Joy Roe,  Augustin Hadelich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
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  • 2.
    James Galway - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 302633 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Arthur Smith,  Various,  Traditional,  Stan Lebowsky  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Sylvia,  Marisa Robles,  Phillip Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Galway Pops Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Bartlett & Robertson: Selected Recordings 1927-1947
    Label: Apr   Catalog: 6012 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ethel Bartlett,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Rae Robertson,  Ethel Bartlett
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
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  • 4.
    Classical Wellness: Musical Tonics For Mind, Body And Spirit
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3464 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Henri Vieuxtemps,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Wolseley Charles,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Dmitry Khakhamov,  Oleg Sergeev,  Grant Gershon,  John Aler  ... 
    Conductor:  Constantine Orbelian,  James DePreist,  Gerard Schwarz,  Anatoly Lapunov  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Style of Five,  The Russian Folk Ensemble Balalaika,  Brazilian Guitar Quartet  ... 
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  • 5.
    Classical Chamomile
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1629 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Antonín Dvorák,  Alan Hovhaness,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Elmar Oliveira,  Douglas Davis,  Zuill Bailey,  Carol Rosenberger  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  David Wiley,  Constantine Orbelian,  Aldo Parisot
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shanghai Quartet,  Yale Cellos
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  • 6.
    Label: Klavier Records   Catalog: 77045 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Larry Mactaggart,  Anonymous,  William Ballet,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Kevin Sapp,  Robert Harrelson,  Eric Sabatino,  Jessica Dan  ... 
    Conductor:  Lowell E. Graham
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  • 7.
    Pictures / Boston Cello Quartet
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5638070466 Release Date: 02/04/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Cello Quartet
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  • 8.
    Label: Alphabet Kids   Catalog: 5637707569 Release Date: 01/11/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Yongmei Hu
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  • 9.
    Label: Reflections   Catalog: 56806 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
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  • 10.
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637197396 Release Date: 09/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Traditional,  Anonymous,  Ben Steinberg  ... 
    Performer:  Adagio Trio,  Kathryn Daniels,  Linda Grieser,  Michael Daniels  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adagio Trio
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  • 11.
    Leopold Stokowski - The Stereo Collection 1954-1975
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 1916852 Release Date: 08/21/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Gustav Mahler,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Margaret Price,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Anna Moffo,  Martina Arroyo  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra,  Norman Luboff Choir  ... 
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  • 12.
    Simply Baroque II - Bach & Boccherini / Yo-Yo Ma
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 756142 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Luigi Boccherini
    Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma,  Ton Koopman
    Conductor:  Ton Koopman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Classics For Your Wedding
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 623247 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Johann Pachelbel,  César Franck,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini,  David [Pipe Organ] Briggs,  Katia Labèque,  Marielle Labèque  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Andrew Parrott,  Stephen Cleobury,  Paavo Järvi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Ensemble Orchestral de Paris,  Les Arts Florissants  ... 
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  • 14.
    Kirsten Flagstad Edition - The Decca Recitals
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001683102 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Richard Wagner,  Jean Sibelius,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Kirsten Flagstad,  Sigvart Fotland,  Edwin McArthur
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Hans Knappertsbusch,  Oivin Fjeldstad,  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Bravo! The No. 1 Albums / Mormon Tabernacle Choir
    Label: Mormon Tabernacle   Catalog: 5078531 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  William Moore,  Philip Paul Bliss,  Benjamin Franklin White,  Henry George Ley  ... 
    Performer:  Clayton Brainerd,  Andrew Unsworth,  Clay Christiansen,  Richard Elliott  ... 
    Conductor:  Mack Wilberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mormon Tabernacle Choir,  Bells on Temple Square
    CD: $39.99
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  • 16.
    Label: Churchkat   Catalog: 5637920279 Release Date: 03/20/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  George Frideric Handel,  Franz Schubert,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Gerry Manecke,  Colleen Moore
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  • 17.
    Baroque Masterpieces / Neville Marriner, Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 85175 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Christoph W. Gluck,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
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  • 18.
    Beauty Of The Baroque / Danielle De Niese
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001586902 Release Date: 01/10/2012  
    Composer:  John Dowland,  George Frideric Handel,  Henry Purcell,  Claudio Monteverdi  ... 
    Performer:  Danielle De Niese,  Andreas Scholl
    Conductor:  Harry Bicket
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
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  • 19.
    50 Most Essential Bach Masterpieces
    Label: X5   Catalog: 113 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Henrik Mawe,  Klemens Schnorr,  Pieter Schoeman,  Vesselin Gellev  ... 
    Conductor:  David Parry,  Mikhail Gantvarg,  Jansug Kakhidze,  Saulius Sondeckis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Soloists,  Bach Collegium Japan,  Moravian Trio
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  • 20.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 828662 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Henry Purcell,  Jean-Philippe Rameau  ... 
    Performer:  Nancy Argenta,  Crispian Steele-Perkins,  Gudrun Jahn,  Barbara Hendricks  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Fischer,  Kirk Trevor,  Louis Langrée,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Paris National Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 21.
    Ultimate Wedding Collection [emi Classics]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27203 Release Date: 05/17/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  George Frideric Handel,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Markus Klinko,  Ian Brown,  Susan Tomes,  Frederic Bayco  ... 
    Conductor:  Reginald Kilbey,  Stephen Cleobury,  Sir David Willcocks,  Kenneth Montgomery  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble,  Taverner Players
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  • 22.
    Trumpet Voluntary - Music For Organ And Brass / Hurford
    Label: Argo   Catalog: 433451 Release Date: 04/04/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Henry Purcell,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jean-François Dandrieu  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Laird Brass Ensemble
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  • 23.
    Icon - Elisabeth Schwarzkopf - Perfect Prima Donna
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 18459 Release Date: 03/22/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gottfried H. Stölzel,  George Frideric Handel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  J. Edward Merret,  Harold Jackson,  Geraint Jones,  Manoug Parikian  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Gellhorn,  Otto Klemperer,  Thurston Dart,  Josef Krips  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 24.
    The Bach Experience
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 80821 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Angela Maria Blasi,  Marie-Claire Alain,  Alan Curtis,  Ton Koopman  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Ton Koopman,  Hans Gillesberger
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  • 25.
    Bach: 6 Sonaten Fur Orgel In Bearbeitungen Fur 2 Klaviere Zu 4 Handen
    Label: Fuga Libera   Catalog: 572 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Burkhard Spinnler,  Claudine Orloff
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