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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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Bach: St. John Passion / Kozena, Padmore, Rattle
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Berlin Philharmonic  
Catalog: 140031   Number of Discs: 3
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Work: Suite for Orchestra no 3 in D major, BWV 1068

Browse 1-25 of 121 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Bach: Orchestral Suites / Egarr, Academy Of Ancient Music
    Label: Aam Records   Catalog: 3 Release Date: 11/18/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Richard Egarr
    Conductor:  Richard Egarr
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
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  • 2.
    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  ... 
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  • 3.
    Bach: Orchestral Suites Nos. 1-4
    Label: Smekkleysa   Catalog: 17 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Martial Nardeau
    Conductor:  Reinhard Goebel
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 4.
    The Argo Years / Neville Marriner, Academy Of St Martin In The Fields [28-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002081902 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Giuseppe Torelli,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli  ... 
    Performer:  Gwynne Howell,  Philip Langridge,  Anna Reynolds,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
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    CD: $163.49
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  • 5.
    Bach, Albinoni, Fasch: Suites, Concertos, Overtures
    Label: Fuga Libera   Catalog: 717 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Friedrich Fasch
    Performer:  Dirk Vandaele,  Paul Dombrecht
    Conductor:  Paul Dombrecht
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Fondamento
    CD: $39.99
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  • 6.
    Bach: Orchestra Suite No. 3; Mozart: Symphony No. 29; Beethoven: Symphony No. 1
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5120 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    CD: $17.99
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  • 7.
    Bach: Orchestral Works & Concertos / Kuijken, La Petite Bande [5-CD Set]
    Label: Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 7683852 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Barthold Kuijken,  Wieland Kuijken,  Sigiswald Kuijken,  Robert Kohnen  ... 
    Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Petite Bande
    CD: $14.99
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  • 8.
    Karl Richter Edition - Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Orchestral Suites, Concertos, Musical Offering, Organ Recital
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 13053 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Karl Richter,  Aurèle Nicolet,  Kurt Guntner,  Siegfried Meinecke  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Solistes du Festival Bach d' Ansbach (Solistes)
    CD: $88.99
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  • 9.
    Musica Barocca
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 642238 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Alessandro Marcello,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Performer:  Giovanni Antonini,  Enrico Onofri,  Paolo Grazzi,  Emiliano Rodolfi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Innsbruck Trumpet Consort,  Il Giardino Armonico
    CD: $11.99
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  • 10.
    Bach Masterworks - The Original Jackets Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001929902 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hertha Töpper,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Maria Stader,  Ernst Haefliger  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Rainer Kussmaul,  Reinhard Goebel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir,  English Baroque Soloists  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 11.
    Erato - 50 CD Collection
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 46441 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Pierre Pierlot,  Paul Hongne,  Jacques Chambon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jean-François Paillard,  Frigyes Sándor,  Kent Nagano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Soloists  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 12.
    Bach: The Orchestral Suites /  Kuijken, La Petite Bande
    Label: Accent   Catalog: 24279 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken
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  • 13.
    Bach: Orchestral Suites No 1-4 / Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 501578 Release Date: 06/11/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    Bach: Complete Orchestral Suites / Clark, Consort Of London
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94413 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Robert Haydon Clark
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consort of London
    CD: $8.99
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  • 17.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-3
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001702702 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Alastair Mitchell,  Simon Standage,  Christian Rutherford,  David Reichenberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
    CD: $8.99
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  • 18.
    Avie Records - 10th Anniversary
    Label: Avie   Catalog: 2265 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Enescu,  Gabriel Fauré,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Monica Huggett,  Gonzalo Ruiz,  Luiza Borac,  Charles Owen  ... 
    Conductor:  Monica Huggett,  Harry Bicket,  Imogen Cooper,  Vasily Petrenko  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Sonnerie,  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Northern Sinfonia  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 19.
    Bach: Les Quatre Ouvertures / Jordi Savall, Le Concert Des Nations
    Label: Alia Vox   Catalog: 9890 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Jordi Savall
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert des Nations
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  • 20.
    Brazilian Guitar Quartet
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 6013 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Camargo Mozart Guarnieri,  Francisco Mignone,  Antonio Carlos Gomes  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Galbraith,  Edelton Gloeden,  Everton Gloeden,  Tadeu do Amaral
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brazilian Guitar Quartet
    CD: $48.99
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  • 21.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    Baroque Masterpieces / Neville Marriner, Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 85175 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Christoph W. Gluck,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    CD: $12.99
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  • 24.
    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
    CD: $9.99
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  • 25.
    Bach: Orchestral Suites /  Rilling, Oregon Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 94605 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Carol Wincenc
    Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra
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