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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 Art of Fugue / Angela Hewitt
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67980   Number of Discs: 2
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Glenn Gould - The Complete Bach Collection
Release Date: 10/30/2012   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 196114   Number of Discs: 44
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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: The Six French Suites / Sergey Schepkin
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30046   Number of Discs: 2
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Vivaldi, Bach: Magnificats, Concerti / Savall
Release Date: 12/09/2014   Label: Alia Vox  
Catalog: 9909   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Brandenburg Concerto no 6

Browse 26-50 of 150 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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
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    CD: $115.99
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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.
    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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  • 31.
    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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  • 32.
    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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  • 33.
    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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  • 34.
    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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  • 35.
    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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  • 36.
    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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  • 37.
    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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  • 38.
    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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  • 39.
    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  ... 
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  • 40.
    Lumieres - Music Of The Enlightenment [30-CD Set]
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908601 Release Date: 10/01/2011   Number of Discs: 30
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Kobie van Rensburg,  Véronique Gens,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Marie McLaughlin  ... 
    Conductor:  René Jacobs,  William Christie,  Daniel Reuss,  Philippe Herreweghe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne,  Cologne Collegium Vocale,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus  ... 
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  • 41.
    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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  • 42.
    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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  • 43.
    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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  • 44.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Paillard, Paillard Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 49184 Release Date: 05/06/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Jean-François Paillard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paillard Chamber Orchestra
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  • 45.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Orchestral Suites, Concertos / Pinnock [8-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 001538502 Release Date: 04/19/2011   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Trevor Pinnock,  Lisa Beznosiuk,  Simon Standage,  Rachel Beckett  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
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  • 46.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos No 4-6 / Karl Richter, Munich Bach Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 463012 Release Date: 03/24/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Otto Büchner,  Edgar Shann
    Conductor:  Karl Richter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra
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  • 47.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos 1-6 / Abbado, Carmignola, Orchestra Mozart
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001530302 Release Date: 03/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Giuliano Carmignola
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra Mozart
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  • 48.
    Bach: Concerts Avec Plusieurs Instruments Vol 5 / Cafe Zimmermann
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 168 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Café Zimmermann
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  • 49.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Guttler, Virtuosi Saxoniae
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300113 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Friedrich Kircheis,  Eckart Haupt,  Roland Straumer,  Uta Hoffmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Ludwig Güttler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi Saxoniae
    CD: $22.49
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  • 50.
    Bach: Integrale Concerts Plusieurs / Cafe Zimmerman
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 811 Release Date: 01/10/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Café Zimmermann
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