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: Transcriptions of Concertos by Vivaldi & Marcello / Sophie Yates
Release Date: 05/28/2013   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 796   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Secular Cantatas Vol  4 - Academic Cantatas  / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 07/08/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2001   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Lutheran Masses / Rilling
Release Date: 05/27/2008   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 7027   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Six Trio Sonatas / Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players
Release Date: 06/24/2014   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 803   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Original Works And Transcriptions By Franz Liszt / Schmidt
Release Date: 05/31/2011   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 11025   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Partita for Violin solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1004

Browse 1-25 of 197 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    David Garrett - The Early Years
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002064902 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Niccolň Paganini  ... 
    Performer:  Aleksandr Markovich,  David Garrett,  Itamar Golan,  Bruno Canino
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Mikhail Pletnev
    On sale! $51.98
    CD: $49.99
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  • 2.
    Biber, Bartok, Berio, Bach
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72635 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heinrich Ignaz Biber,  Béla Bartók,  Luciano Berio,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Liza Ferschtman
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  • 3.
    Oscar Shumsky
    Label: Doremi Records   Catalog: 8031 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Dietrich Buxtehude,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Oscar Shumsky
    On sale! $59.98
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  • 4.
    Pepe Romero - Master of the Guitar [11-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002012902 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Luigi Boccherini,  Ferdinando Carulli  ... 
    Performer:  Pepe Romero,  Angel Romero,  Christine Pendrill,  Agustin Leon Ara  ... 
    Conductor:  Iona Brown,  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.,  Los Romeros
    CD: $83.49
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  • 5.
    Label: Aparte   Catalog: 68 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Joseph Vilsmayr,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Johann Paul von Westhoff,  Thomas Baltzar  ... 
    Performer:  Thibault Noally
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  • 6.
    James Brawn In Recital
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1501 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Liszt,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  James Brawn
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  • 7.
    Icon: The Early Years - Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 928129 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Marius Casadesus,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu,  Hephzibah Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen  ... 
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    On sale! $56.98
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  • 8.
    The Bach: The Sonatas And Partitas For Solo Violin
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 758 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Luca Fanfoni
    CD: $22.49
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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    The Complete Recordings of Johanna Martzy on EMI & Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 81400 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Johanna Martzy,  Jean Antonietti
    Conductor:  Paul Kletzki,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Ferenc Fricsay,  Eugen Jochum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Bach: Sonatas And Partitas For Solo Violin / Sirkka-liisa Kaakinen-pilch
    Label: Ondine   Catalog: 1241 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Sirkka-Liisa Kaakinen
    CD: $17.99
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  • 12.
    Portrait / Amandine Beyer
    Label: Zig Zag   Catalog: 325 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Nicola Matteis,  Jean-Féry Rebel,  Robert de Visée,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Amandine Beyer,  Marianne Muller [Viola da Gamba],  Pascal Monteilhet,  Edna Stern
    Conductor:  Amandine Beyer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gli Incogniti,  L'Assemblée des Honnestes Curieux
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  • 13.
    Bach: Sonata No 1, Partita No 2 For Solo Violin;  Martinu
    Label: Elan Recordings   Catalog: 221222 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Bohuslav Martinu
    Performer:  Elmar Oliveira,  Sandra Robbins
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  • 14.
    Bach: The Sonatas And Partitas; Chromatic Fantasy And Fugue
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3283 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Daniel Stepner
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  • 15.
    Bach: Sonatas And Partitas For Solo Violin / Kristof Barati
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94667 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Kristóf Baráti
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  • 16.
    Jean Geoffroy Joue Bach
    Label: Skarbo   Catalog: 11088 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean Geoffroy
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  • 17.
    Bach: Six Sonatas & Partitas / Gottfried Schneider
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 868 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gottfried Schneider
    CD: $34.99
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  • 18.
    Bach: Sonata BWV 1001, Partita BWV 1004 / Miguel Rincon
    Label: Carpe Diem   Catalog: 16295 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Miguel Rincon
    CD: $17.99
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  • 19.
    Bach: Sonatas And Partitas, Vol. 1 / Rudiger Lotter
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 838 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Rudiger Lotter
    CD: $19.99
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  • 20.
    Bach: Sei Solo - Sonatas & Partitas For Violin
    Label: Phi   Catalog: 8 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Christine Busch
    CD: $27.49
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  • 21.
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 381267 Release Date: 02/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Jakob Walther,  Johann Paul von Westhoff,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Uta Pape,  Wolf-Eckart Dietrich,  Klaus Mader,  Olaf Reimers
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  • 22.
    Label: Coviello Classics   Catalog: 61302 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacinto Scelsi,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Barbara Lüneburg
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  • 23.
    Bach & Beethoven / 	Maxim Vengerov, Itamar Golan
    Label: Wigmore Hall Live   Catalog: 56 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Henri Wieniawski,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Maxim Vengerov,  Itamar Golan
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  • 24.
    Bach: Compete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin / Ricci
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 2077 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Ruggiero Ricci
    On sale! $35.98
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  • 25.
    Steven Staryk: A Retrospective, Vol. 3 - Bach
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3211 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Steven Staryk,  Kenneth Gilbert
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Steven Staryk
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