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
Bach: The Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord / Pine, Vinikour
Release Date: 05/11/2018   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 177   Number of Discs: 2
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Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach & Boccherini
Release Date: 05/25/2018   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 19075816322   Number of Discs: 6
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J.S. Bach: Musikalisches Opfer / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 10/09/2017   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2151   Number of Discs: 1
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Circles: Piano Concertos by Glass & Bach / Dinnerstein, A Far Cry
Release Date: 05/18/2018   Label: Orange Mountain Music  
Catalog: 127   Number of Discs: 1
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Platinum - Bach: The Six Suites / Paolo Pandolfo
Release Date: 09/25/2001   Label: Glossa  
Catalog: 30405   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Brandenburg Concerto no 2

Browse 151-158 of 158 Available Recordings
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  • 151.
    Classics - Virtuoso Trumpet / Smedvig, Ling, Scottish Co
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80227 Release Date: 11/16/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Leopold Mozart,  Georg Philipp Telemann
    Performer:  Rolf Smedvig
    Conductor:  Jahja Ling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra
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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.
    Maurice André - Trumpet Concertos - Bach, Handel, Haydn, Etc
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 69152 Release Date: 09/29/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Domenico Cimarosa,  Benedetto Marcello,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Giuseppe Tartini  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Maxence Larrieu,  János Rolla,  Bernard Schenkel
    Conductor:  Jörg Faerber,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Württemberg Chamber Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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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: 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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  • 157.
    Bach: 6 Brandenburg Concertos, 4 Suites / Pinnock, English Concert
    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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  • 158.
    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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