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: Transcriptions of Concertos by Vivaldi & Marcello / Sophie Yates
Release Date: 05/28/2013   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 796   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Secular Cantatas Vol  4 - Academic Cantatas  / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 07/08/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2001   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Lutheran Masses / Rilling
Release Date: 05/27/2008   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 7027   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Six Trio Sonatas / Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players
Release Date: 06/24/2014   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 803   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Cello Suites / Mstislav Rostropovich
Release Date: 03/29/2011   Label: Supraphon  
Catalog: 4044   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Brandenburg Concerto no 1

Browse 151-160 of 160 Available Recordings
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  • 151.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Kapp, Philharmonia Virtuosi
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 53525 Release Date: 06/14/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Richard Kapp
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Virtuosi
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  • 152.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Violin Concertos / I Musici
    Label: Philips Duo   Catalog: 438317 Release Date: 08/10/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Felix Ayo,  Roberto Michelucci
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici
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  • 153.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Harnoncourt, Concentus Musicus
    Label: Teldec Das Alte Werk   Catalog: 77611 Release Date: 03/09/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus
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  • 154.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Hogwood
    Label: L'oiseau Lyre   Catalog: 414187 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
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  • 155.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415374 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 156.
    Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos Nos 1, 2 & 3 / Marriner
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 400076 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Kenneth Sillito,  John Birch,  Denis Vigay,  Heinz Holliger  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 157.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Concertos BWV 1055 & 1060 / Karl Richter
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 427143 Release Date: 09/01/1989   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Edgar Shann,  Otto Büchner,  Manfred Clement
    Conductor:  Karl Richter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra
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  • 158.
    Bach: 6 Brandenburg Concertos, 4 Suites / Pinnock, Et Al
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 423492 Release Date: 05/09/1989   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
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  • 159.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Goebel, Musica Antiqua Köln
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 423116 Release Date: 11/04/1987   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Sabine Bauer,  Reinhard Goebel,  Michael Schneider,  Friedemann Immer  ... 
    Conductor:  Reinhard Goebel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua Cologne
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  • 160.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos 1-3 / Pickett, New London
    Label: L'oiseau-lyre London/Decca   Catalog: 440-676 Release Date: 01/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Philip Pickett
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Consort
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