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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: French Suites, BWV 812-817 / Ashkenazy
Release Date: 06/30/2017   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002683802   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Partitas, BWV 825-830 / Vinikour
Release Date: 11/18/2016   Label: Sono Luminus  
Catalog: 92209   Number of Discs: 3
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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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Bach: Christmas Oratorio / Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque
Release Date: 10/01/1996   Label: Erato  
Catalog: 14635   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Cantatas for Christmas / Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists
Release Date: 10/30/2012   Label: Soli Deo Gloria Records  
Catalog: 178   Number of Discs: 6
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Work: Brandenburg Concerto no 5

Browse 1-25 of 168 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Goebel, Berlin Baroque Soloists
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985361112 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Reinhard Goebel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Baroque Soloists
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  • 2.
    Les maitres du Baroque
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 372 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Jean-Baptiste Lully  ... 
    Performer:  Tomas Kral,  Daniel Elgersma,  Philippe Froeliger,  Lionel Meunier  ... 
    Conductor:  Chiara Banchini,  Lionel Meunier,  Raphaël Pichon,  Vincent Dumestre  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble 415,  Vox Luminis,  Café Zimmermann  ... 
    CD: $37.49
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  • 3.
    Karl Richter Edition
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 16010 Release Date: 10/20/2017   Number of Discs: 31
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Siegfried Meinecke,  Karl Richter,  Fritz Kiskalt,  Kurt Guntner  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Karl Richter Chamber Orchestra,  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Ansbach Bach Week Soloists  ... 
    CD: $64.49
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  • 4.
    Rudolf Serkin: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985404062 Release Date: 08/25/2017   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin,  Adolf Busch,  Hermann Busch,  Pablo Casals  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Bruno Walter,  Eugene Ormandy,  Pablo Casals  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Busch String Quartet  ... 
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  • 5.
    Baroque Gold: 100 Great Tracks
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4832158 Release Date: 06/30/2017   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Jean-Baptiste Lully,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Performer:  Nigel North,  Christopher Hirons,  Christophe Rousset,  Ottavio Dantone  ... 
    Conductor:  Reinhard Goebel,  Philip Pickett,  Christopher Hogwood,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua Cologne,  New London Consort,  Academy of Ancient Music  ... 
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  • 6.
    The Murray Perahia Awards Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985413952 Release Date: 05/12/2017   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Murray Perahia
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  • 7.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Mertin, Vienna Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4213 Release Date: 01/13/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Josef Mertin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concerthouse Orchestra
    CD: $22.49
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  • 8.
    Murray Perahia Plays Bach: The Complete Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 0300829 Release Date: 11/11/2016   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Murray Perahia,  Leonore Smith,  Michael Cox,  Jakob Lindberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Murray Perahia
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
    CD: $23.99
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  • 9.
    Bach: The Complete Keyboard Works / Ruzickova
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 557841 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Zuzana Ruzicková,  Jean-Pierre Rampal
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  • 10.
    Charles Munch: The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 516979 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 86
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Vincent D'Indy  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Artur Rubinstein,  Margaret Roggero,  Leslie Chabey  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Harvard Glee Club  ... 
    CD: $226.99
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  • 11.
    The Golden Era of Living Stereo: Remastered Collector's Edition
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 532174 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Pietro Nardini,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Stuart Sankey,  Ania Dorfmann,  Leonid Kogan,  Andrei Mitnik  ... 
    Conductor:  Howard Mitchell,  Arthur Fiedler,  Arturo Basile,  Robert Shaw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Festival Quartet,  Portland Symphonic Choir,  Choir Of The Abbey Of Mount Angel  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 12.
    Allusions & Beyond / Piano Duo Takahashi-Lehmann
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 97700 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Bernd Alois Zimmermann,  Johannes Brahms
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Piano Duo Takahashi-Lehmann
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  • 13.
    Portrait / Concerto Koln
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 0300786 Release Date: 08/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
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  • 14.
    Pinchas Zukerman: Complete Recordings on DG, Decca, & Philips
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002514302 Release Date: 07/22/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Midori,  Daniel Barenboim,  Marc Neikrug  ... 
    Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Barenboim,  Charles Dutoit,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $78.99
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  • 15.
    Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos, Violin Concertos & Harpsichord Concertos
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88725463862 Release Date: 07/08/2016   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
    Performer:  Bob van Asperen,  Anthony Woodrow,  Frans Brüggen,  Gustav Leonhardt  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustav Leonhardt,  Jeanne Lamon
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    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
    CD: $49.99
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  • 22.
    Jean-Pierre Rampal: The Complete Erato Recordings, Vol. 3 1970-1982
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 552118 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 23
    Composer:  Johann Melchoir Molter,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Aram Khachaturian,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Pierre Barbizet,  Robert Veyron-Lacroix,  Marie-Claire Alain  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-François Paillard,  Claudio Scimone,  Jean Martinon,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Trio Pasquier,  Les Solistes De Ličge
    CD: $68.99
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  • 23.
    Bach In Brandenburg
    Label: Klanglogo   Catalog: 1502 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Elisabeth Zaim,  Klaudyna Schulze-Broniewska,  Ruth Pfundstein-Langes,  Thilo Hoppe
    Conductor:  Howard Griffiths
    CD: $18.99
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  • 24.
    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
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  • 25.
    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 Baroque Orchestra,  Stuttgart Chamber Choir,  Tölz Boys Choir  ... 
    CD: $72.49
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