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: 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 / Joshua Bell
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 308779   Number of Discs: 1
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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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Bach: The Art Of Fugue / Angela Hewitt
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67980   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Orchestral Works & Concertos / Kuijken, La Petite Bande [5-CD Set]
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 7683852   Number of Discs: 5
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Work: Sheep may safely graze (Schafe können sicher weiden)

Browse 176-187 of 187 Available Recordings
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  • 176.
    Bach - Greatest Hits
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 60828 Release Date: 09/06/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Virgil Fox,  James Galway,  Josef Suk,  Aurèle Nicolet  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski,  Arthur Fiedler,  James Galway,  Rudolf Baumgartner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Pops,  Zagreb Soloists  ... 
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  • 177.
    The Wedding Album / Anthony Newman
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 47273 Release Date: 05/24/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  André Campra,  Franz Schubert,  Henry Purcell  ... 
    Performer:  Anthony Newman
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  • 178.
    A Bach Celebration / Christopher Parkening
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 47195 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Christopher Parkening,  Douglas Davis,  Allan Vogel,  David Shostac  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
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  • 179.
    Bach: Great Organ Works / Virgil Fox
    Label: Rca Victrola   Catalog: 7736 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Virgil Fox
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  • 180.
    Greatest Hits Of 1721 / Richard Kapp, Philharmonia Virtuosi
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 35821 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Paul A. Martini,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Kapp
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Virtuosi
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  • 181.
    Pachelbel: Canon;  Albinoni, Et Al /Münchinger, Stuttgart Co
    Label: London/Decca Jubilee   Catalog: 417781 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Luigi Boccherini,  Roman Hoffstetter  ... 
    Performer:  Ulrich Bremsteller
    Conductor:  Karl Münchinger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
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  • 182.
    Parkening Plays Bach / Christopher Parkening
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 47191 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Alessandro Scarlatti,  François Couperin,  Silvius Leopold Weiss  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Parkening
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  • 183.
    White Christmas / Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops
    Label: Dg Galleria   Catalog: 419414 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  John Frederic Coots,  Johnny Marks  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
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  • 184.
    Dinner Classics - The Sunday Brunch Album
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 45547 Release Date: 05/17/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Vincenzo Tommasini,  Henry Purcell  ... 
    Performer:  Leonid Bolotine,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Lee Soper,  Edward Carroll  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Kapp,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Raymond Leppard,  Louis Lane  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Virtuosi,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 185.
    Sweet Dreams - Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel, Grieg, Et Al
    Label: Cbs Masterworks Digital Masters   Catalog: 44998 Release Date: 09/12/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Frederica Von Stade
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Eugene Ormandy,  Percy Faith,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Percy Faith & His Orchestra  ... 
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  • 186.
    Prelude To Pageatry - Voluntaries For Band / Life Guards
    Label: Bandleader   Catalog: 5151 Release Date: 06/15/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Edward MacDowell,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Life Guards Band
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  • 187.
    The Art Of Egon Petri - Concert Performances & Broadcasts, 1954-1962
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: CD772 Release Date: 05/1993   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ferruccio Busoni,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Egon Petri,  Carlo Bussotti
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