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: Cello Suites / Harrell
Release Date: 08/12/2016   Label: Decca  
Catalog: B002530102   Number of Discs: 2
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Stokowski Transcriptions - Bach, Wagner, Mussorgsky / Serebrier, Bournemouth SO
Release Date: 04/27/2010   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8505086   Number of Discs: 5
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Bach: Sonatas for Flute & Harpsichord / Fred, Hakkinen
Release Date: 08/12/2016   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573376   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: A cembalo obligato e travers solo / Holtslag, Haugsand
Release Date: 08/26/2016   Label: Aeolus  
Catalog: AE10246   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach Concertos / La Divina Armonia
Release Date: 08/26/2016   Label: Passacaille  
Catalog: PAS 1019   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Brandenburg Concerto no 4

Browse 26-50 of 138 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Britten the Performer - Complete Decca Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922102 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 27
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Henry Purcell,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Adrian Thompson,  John Tobin,  Jenny Hill,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  Wandsworth School Choir  ... 
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  • 27.
    Precious Baroque - Bach: Brandenburg Concertos; Vivaldi: Four Seasons
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300534 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Enrico Casazza
    Conductor:  Pieter-Jan Belder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Magnifica Comunità,  Musica Amphion
    CD: $12.99
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  • 28.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Butt, Dunedin Consort
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 430 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  John Butt
    Conductor:  John Butt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
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  • 29.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos 1, 3, 4 & 5 / Alessandrini, Concerto Italiano
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 40030 Release Date: 08/06/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
    Conductor:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Italiano
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  • 30.
    Archiv Produktion 1947-2013
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 001833572 Release Date: 06/18/2013   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anonymous,  Adam de la Halle,  Raimbaut de Vaqeiras  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Hermann Töttcher,  Maria Jung  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Ristenpart,  Fritz Lehmann,  Maurus Pfaff,  Safford Cape  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Karl Ristenpart Chamber Orchestra,  Bach Festival Orchestra,  Frankfurt Music School Chorus  ... 
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  • 31.
    Bach, Rameau, Handel, Gluck, Haydn / Otto Klemperer [8-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 484332 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Christoph W. Gluck,  George Frideric Handel,  Jean-Philippe Rameau  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $39.99
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  • 32.
    Bach: Complete Orchestral Works / Helmuth Rilling
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 98009 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Carol Wincenc,  Christoph Poppen,  Isabelle Faust,  Robert Levin  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra,  Oregon Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra,  Stuttgart Bach Collegium
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  • 33.
    Lorraine - Bach: Mein Herze Schwimmt Im Blut / Hunt Lieberson, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Yarlung Records   Catalog: 96298 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,  Margaret Batjer,  David Shostac,  Brook Ellen Schoenwald
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Kahane
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
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  • 34.
    EMI Eminence - The Original Jacket Collection [50-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 393872 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  David Nolan,  Jonathan Small,  George Malcolm,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Anton Rickenbacher,  Vernon Handley,  George Guest,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cambridge St. John's College Choir  ... 
    CD: $154.99
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  • 35.
    Alfred Cortot: Anniversary Edition
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 4907 Release Date: 11/19/2012   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Isaac Albeniz,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Alfred Cortot,  Pablo Casals,  Jacques Thibaud,  Charles Panzera  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  International String Quartet
    On sale! $119.98
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  • 36.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Rilling, Oregon Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 94615 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oregon Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra
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  • 37.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos; Shostakovich: Preludes Op. 87 / Maute, Ensemble Caprice
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 299967 Release Date: 10/02/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Matthias Maute
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Caprice
    CD: $31.49
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  • 38.
    All-Baroque Box (From Monteverdi To Bach) [50-CD Limited Edition]
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 001719702 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Domenico Scarlatti,  Giovanni Battista Pergolesi  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Harvey,  Stephen Varcoe,  Anthony Rolfe Johnson,  Michael Chance  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner,  Paul McCreesh,  Marc Minkowski,  Trevor Pinnock  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir,  Gabrieli Consort  ... 
    CD: $138.99
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  • 39.
    From Bach To Wagner / Boult, London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 35657 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir
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  • 40.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 4-6
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001702802 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Simon Standage,  Trevor Pinnock,  Lisa Beznosiuk,  Charles Medlam  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
    CD: $6.99
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  • 41.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-6
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 10138 Release Date: 07/20/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Fritz Huth,  Friedrich Wuhrer,  Walter Reuband,  Harald Kaehne  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter
    CD: $12.99
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  • 42.
    Great Baroque Masterpieces
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8501061 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Georg Philipp Telemann  ... 
    Performer:  Nadja Schubert,  Daniel Rothert,  Corinne Chapelle,  Karl Kaiser  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmut Müller-Brühl,  Kevin Mallon,  Bradley Creswick,  Jozef Kopelman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Chamber Orchestra,  Aradia Ensemble,  Northern Sinfonia  ... 
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  • 43.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos /  Lamon, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
    Label: Tafelmusik Media   Catalog: 1004 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
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  • 44.
    The Complete Bach Edition
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 664202 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 154
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Max van Egmond,  Kurt Equiluz,  Paul Esswood,  Walter Gampert  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Ton Koopman,  Jaap Schröder  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Chorus Viennensis,  Vienna Boys' Choir  ... 
    CD: $398.99
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  • 45.
    J.s. Bach: Brandenburg Concertos No. 1-6
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: 269 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    CD: $9.99
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  • 46.
    Label: Pan Classics   Catalog: 10277 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Gunar Letzbor
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ars Antiqua Austria
    CD: $24.99
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  • 47.
    Bach & Vivaldi / Rinaldo Alessandrini, Concerto Italiano [6-CD Set]
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 30530 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Benedetto Marcello,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Alessandro Marcello
    Performer:  Rinaldo Alessandrini,  Riccardo Minasi,  Luca Peverini,  Antonio De Secondi  ... 
    Conductor:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Italiano
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  • 48.
    Baroque - Bach, Blow, Charpentier, Corelli, Handel, Monteverdi
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908510 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Jacques Philidor,  Claudio Monteverdi  ... 
    Performer:  Marie-Ange Petit,  Agnès Mellon,  Guillemette Laurens,  Gregory Reinhart  ... 
    Conductor:  William Christie,  Nicholas McGegan,  Philippe Herreweghe,  Chiara Banchini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin,  Les Arts Florissants,  Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 49.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos; Triple Concertos / Schreier, CPE Bach Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802075 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Maurice Bourgue,  Håkan Hardenberger,  Irena Grafenauer,  Simon Preston
    Conductor:  Peter Schreier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  C.P.E. Bach Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 50.
    Il Giardino Armonico
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 632642 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi,  Dario Castello,  Ottavio Dantone,  Giovanni Battista Spadi  ... 
    Performer:  Ottavio Dantone,  Enrico Onofri,  Luca Pianca
    Conductor:  Giovanni Antonini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Giardino Armonico,  Innsbruck Trumpet Consort
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