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: Complete Sacred Cantatas / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 06/10/2016   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 9055   Number of Discs: 55
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Bach & Beyond / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 08/01/2010   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 903639   Number of Discs: 14
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All You Need Is Bach / Carpenter
Release Date: 06/03/2016   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 517826   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Goldberg Variations / Aulos Quartet
Release Date: 06/03/2016   Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)  
Catalog: 9031950   Number of Discs: 1
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Sacred Music - Bach, Handel, Beethoven / Klemperer
Release Date: 08/20/2013   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 935402   Number of Discs: 8
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Work: Brandenburg Concerto no 3

Browse 1-25 of 157 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Bach: Complete Concertos
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95303 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Erwin Wieringa,  Remy Baudet,  Frank De Bruine,  Teunis Van der Zwart  ... 
    Conductor:  Pieter-Jan Belder,  Burkhard Glaetzner,  Kurt Masur,  Donatas Katkus
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Amphion,  Amsterdam Bach Soloists,  Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum Leipzig  ... 
    CD: $44.49
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  • 2.
    Herbert von Karajan: Maestro for the Screen
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 737608 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Herbert von Karajan: Maestro for the Screen [Blu-ray]
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 737704 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $34.99
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  • 4.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Kallo, Cappela Savaria
    Label: Hungaroton   Catalog: 32786 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Zsolt Kalló
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Savaria
    CD: $34.99
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  • 5.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Orchestral Suites & Chamber Music / Goebel
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 002485602 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Reinhard Goebel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua Cologne
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  • 6.
    Bach on Brass / German Brass
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300720 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Brass
    CD: $29.99
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  • 7.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Koch, Neumeyer Consort
    Label: Christophorus   Catalog: 77400 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Felix Koch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Neumeyer Consort
    CD: $24.99
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  • 8.
    Die Ludwig Guttler Edition / Virtuosi Saxoniae, Guttler
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300705 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Johann Adolf Hasse,  Jan Dismas Zelenka,  Alessandro Scarlatti,  Johann David Heinichen  ... 
    Performer:  Egbert Junghanns,  Dagmar Schellenberger,  Axel Köhler,  Friedrich Kircheis  ... 
    Conductor:  Ludwig Güttler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi Saxoniae,  Thüringen Academy Choir,  Vienna Concentus Vocalis  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 9.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
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  • 10.
    Adolf Busch & Busch Quartet: The Complete Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553027 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin,  Adolf Busch,  Hermann Busch,  Karl Doktor  ... 
    Conductor:  Adolf Busch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Trio
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  • 11.
    Best of German Baroque: J.S. Bach
    Label: Tafelmusik Media   Catalog: 1028 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik,  Tafelmusik Chamber Choir
    CD: $12.99
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  • 12.
    Bach: 6 Brandenburg Concertos
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 550562 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Claude Maisonneuve,  Pierre Pierlot,  Gérard Jarry,  Maurice André  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-François Paillard
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 13.
    Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra - The Complete Sony Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875030622 Release Date: 06/16/2015   Number of Discs: 47
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wilhelm Friedemann Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Heinrich Ignaz Biber  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanne Lamon,  Stephen Marvin,  Christina Mahler,  Ivars Taurins  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon,  Bruno Weil,  Frieder Bernius
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik,  Stuttgart Chamber Choir,  Tölz Boys Choir  ... 
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  • 14.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos No 1-6 / Zukerman, Los Angeles Philharmonic Members
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186205 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic members
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  • 15.
    The Bach Recordings / Hogwood, Academy of Ancient Music
    Label: L'oiseau Lyre   Catalog: 002307502 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Christian Bach,  Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    Performer:  Christophe Rousset,  Catherine Mackintosh,  Monica Huggett,  Christopher Hirons  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Johann Sebastian Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos Bwv 1046-1051 Complete Edition
    Label: Tacet   Catalog: 101 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Benjamin Hudson,  Reinhold Friedrich
    Blu-ray Audio: $29.99
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  • 17.
    Maestro Vladimir Spivakov: J.s. Bach
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002301 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Spoken Word
    Performer:  Mikhail Pletnev,  Bernard Soustrot,  Araxia Davtian,  Vasily Kan  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Spivakov
    CD: $29.99
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  • 18.
    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:  Elizabeth Joy Roe,  Greg Anderson,  Augustin Hadelich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
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  • 19.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Florilegium
    Label: Channel Classics   Catalog: 35914 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Florilegium Ensemble
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  • 20.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos  / Concerto Koln
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300593 Release Date: 10/28/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
    CD: $29.99
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  • 21.
    Bach: Complete Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 1116165 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 142
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Remy Baudet,  Theunis Van der Zwart,  Erwin Wieringa,  Pieter-Jan Belder  ... 
    Conductor:  Pieter-Jan Belder,  Ludwig Güttler,  Thomas Zehetmair,  Kurt Masur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Amphion,  Virtuosi Saxoniae,  Amsterdam Bach Soloists  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 22.
    Claudio Abbado: The Complete RCA & Sony Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 304505 Release Date: 08/05/2014   Number of Discs: 39
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Claudio Abbado,  Murray Perahia,  Anatoly Kotcherga,  Midori  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Recommendation
    CD: $95.99
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  • 23.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos
    Label: Smekkleysa   Catalog: 3 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Rut Ingólfsdóttir,  Dadi Kolbeinsson,  _orkell Jóelsson,  Joseph Ognibene  ... 
    Conductor:  Jaap Schröder
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  • 24.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Orchestra Of The Antipodes
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4761923 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Antony Walker
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Antipodes
    On sale! $29.98
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  • 25.
    Bach: Concertos
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002127 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh
    Conductor:  Rudolf Barshai
    CD: $18.99
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