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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: The Six French Suites / Sergey Schepkin
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30046   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: St. Matthew Passion / Kozena, Padmore, Rattle
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Berlin Philharmonic  
Catalog: 140021   Number of Discs: 3
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Bach: Mass in B Minor / Cohen, Arcangelo
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 68051   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: The Six Motets / Harry Christophers, The Sixteen
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Helios  
Catalog: 55417   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach / Joshua Bell
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 308779   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Brandenburg Concerto no 5

Browse 26-50 of 186 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Murray Perahia - The First 40 Years
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 191256 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Murray Perahia,  Michael Cox,  Leonore Smith,  Kenneth Sillito  ... 
    Conductor:  Murray Perahia,  Bernard Haitink,  Zubin Mehta,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Amadeus String Quartet members  ... 
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  • 27.
    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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  • 28.
    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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  • 29.
    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: $179.99
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  • 30.
    Daniel Hope - Complete Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564660542 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Benjamin Britten,  Maurice Ravel,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Hope,  Sebastian Knauer,  Gaurav Mazumdar,  Asok Chakraborty  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Watkins,  Maxim Shostakovich,  Roger Norrington
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Camerata Salzburg
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  • 31.
    Leopold Stokowski - The Columbia Stereo Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 197115 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Charles Ives  ... 
    Performer:  Shirley Verrett,  Fernando Valenti,  Anshel Brusilow,  William Kincaid  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski,  Gregg Smith
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  American Symphony Orchestra,  Schola Cantorum New York members  ... 
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  • 32.
    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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  • 33.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 4-6
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001702802 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Simon Standage,  Trevor Pinnock,  Lisa Beznosiuk,  Jan Schlapp  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
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  • 34.
    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:  Friedrich Wuhrer,  Harald Kaehne,  Walter Reuband,  Fritz Huth  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter
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  • 35.
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 7 Release Date: 06/01/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Anton Rubinstein,  Bedrich Smetana,  Antonín Dvorák,  Niccolň Paganini  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Ponti,  Iwan Czerkow,  Dubravka Tomsic,  Ivan Cerkov  ... 
    Conductor:  Othmar M. F. Mága,  Heribert Beissel,  Vladimir Petroschoff,  Alfred Scholz  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 36.
    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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  • 37.
    J.s. Bach: Magnificat In D; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; Air From Suite No. 3; Bist Du Bei Mir
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2360 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Sándor Margittay,  János Szebenyi,  Tibor Ney,  Annie Fischer
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
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  • 38.
    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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  • 39.
    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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  • 40.
    Bach, Debussy, Chopin, Faure / Amsterdam Guitar Trio
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802093 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Gabriel Fauré
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
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  • 41.
    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
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  • 42.
    J.s. Bach: Suite No. 3; Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 & 5
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: 264 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
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  • 43.
    The Young Emil Gilels
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 5046 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Emil Gilels
    CD: $14.99
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  • 44.
    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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  • 45.
    Bach - Earthly and Divine [6 CDs+Book]
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 889 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Raphaël Imbert,  Ferruccio Busoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean-Luc Di Fraya,  André Rossi,  Raphaël Imbert,  Jean-Marc Fabiano  ... 
    Conductor:  Raphaël Imbert,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Raphaël Pichon,  Françoise Lasserre  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Café Zimmermann,  Akademia Ensemble,  La Chapelle Royale  ... 
    CD: $68.99
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  • 46.
    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,  Agnčs 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  ... 
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  • 47.
    Bach: Orchestral Works Complete
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 93578 Release Date: 08/30/2011   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Remy Baudet,  Theunis Van der Zwart,  Erwin Wieringa,  Pieter-Jan Belder  ... 
    Conductor:  Pieter-Jan Belder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Amphion,  La Stravaganza Cologne,  Camerata Antonio Lucio  ... 
    CD: $43.99
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  • 48.
    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,  Hĺkan Hardenberger,  Irena Grafenauer,  Simon Preston
    Conductor:  Peter Schreier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  C.P.E. Bach Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 49.
    Murray Perahia Plays Bach Concertos
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 782429 Release Date: 07/19/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  David Miller,  Murray Perahia,  Jakob Lindberg,  Kenneth Sillito  ... 
    Conductor:  Murray Perahia
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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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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