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: Complete Concertos
Release Date: 06/24/2016   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 95303   Number of Discs: 9
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Stokowski Transcriptions - Bach, Wagner, Mussorgsky / Serebrier, Bournemouth SO
Release Date: 04/27/2010   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8505086   Number of Discs: 5
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Bach: Sonatas for Flute & Harpsichord / Fred, Hakkinen
Release Date: 08/12/2016   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573376   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Partita for Violin solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1004

Browse 1-25 of 199 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Originals, Vol. 2
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: B002534902 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha,  Nathan Milstein,  Géza Anda,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Eugen Jochum,  Wolfgang Schneiderhan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $142.49
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  • 2.
    111: The Violin – Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: B002523902 Release Date: 08/05/2016   Number of Discs: 42
    Composer:  Niccolň Paganini,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Giya Kancheli,  Arvo Pärt  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Shmuel Ashkenasi,  Hélčne Grimaud,  Giuliano Carmignola  ... 
    Conductor:  Heribert Esser,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Andrea Marcon,  Reinhard Goebel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Venice Baroque Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $168.98
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  • 3.
    Great Moments at Carnegie Hall
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 503227 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 43
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Roy Harris,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Horowitz,  Jussi Björling,  Frederick Schauwecker,  Van Cliburn  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini,  Serge Koussevitzky,  Bruno Walter,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
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  • 4.
    The Menuhin Century: Luxury Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555050 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 91
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen,  Artur Balsam,  Marcel Gazelle  ... 
    Conductor:  Landon Ronald,  Pierre Monteux,  Jean Fournet,  Anatole Fistoulari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $250.99
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  • 5.
    The Menuhin Century: The Historic Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555052 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonín Dvorák,  Niccolň Paganini  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Gerald Moore,  George Enescu,  David Oistrakh  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Edward Elgar,  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire  ... 
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  • 6.
    Bach: The Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin / Kaplan
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9460 Release Date: 04/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Mark Kaplan
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 7.
    Testament: Complete Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin by Bach / Pine
    Label: Avie   Catalog: 2360 Release Date: 04/01/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Rachel Barton Pine
    CD: $27.49
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  • 8.
    Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin / Beznosiuk
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 366 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pavlo Beznosiuk
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  • 9.
    Francesca Depasquale
    Label: Francesca Depasquale   Catalog: 5638655359 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Olivier Messiaen,  Paola Prestini,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Francesca dePasquale,  Meng-Chieh Liu
    CD: $24.99
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  • 10.
    Philips Classics: The Stereo Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002445602 Release Date: 02/19/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Elly Ameling,  Dalton Baldwin,  Jörg Demus  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Bernard Haitink,  Raymond Leppard,  Eduard Van Beinum  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $134.49
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  • 11.
    Bach: Sonatas & Partitas, BWV 1001-1006 / Luolajan-Mikkola
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 548 Release Date: 02/12/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Markku Luolajan-Mikkola
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  • 12.
    Bach: Violin Sonatas & Partitas / Martzy
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 15036 Release Date: 02/12/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Johanna Martzy
    CD: $34.99
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  • 13.
    Bach: 3 Solo Violin Partitas
    Label: Gega New   Catalog: 19 Release Date: 02/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jassen Todorov
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  • 14.
    J.S. Bach: Complete Violin Sonatas & Partitas / Isabelle Faust
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908474 Release Date: 02/05/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Isabelle Faust
    CD: $13.99
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  • 15.
    Bach: Complete Works for Violin / Schmid, Cis Collegium Mozarteum Salzburg
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 13 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Benjamin Schmid,  Clara Dent,  Helge Rosenkranz,  Anthony Spiri  ... 
    Conductor:  Jürgen Geise
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  • 16.
    Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin / Sigurjonsdottir
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1605 Release Date: 12/08/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hlif Sigurjonsdottir
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  • 17.
    Sei Solo (You Are Alone): J.S. Bach - The Sonatas and Partitas
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1605 Release Date: 12/08/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  James Stern
    On sale! $41.98
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  • 18.
    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
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  • 19.
    Bach: Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin / Midori
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4123 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Midori
    CD: $25.99
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  • 20.
    Hilary Hahn: The Complete Sony Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875126182 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Leonard Bernstein,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Hilary Hahn
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  Hugh Wolff,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Marek Janowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 21.
    Johann Sebastian Bach / Ornulf Boye Hansen
    Label: Bergen Digital   Catalog: 7042 Release Date: 10/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Ornulf Boye Hansen
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 22.
    Johann Sebastian Bach: Baroque Marimba
    Label: Stone Records   Catalog: 8057 Release Date: 10/02/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Stanislao Marco Spina
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  • 23.
    Itzhak Perlman: The Complete Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552439 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 77
    Composer:  Niccolň Paganini,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Ray Still,  Samuel Sanders  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Foster,  Daniel Barenboim,  Itzhak Perlman,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 24.
    J.s. Bach: Sonaten Und Partiten
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552364 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman
    CD: $15.99
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  • 25.
    Label: Ja Hsieh   Catalog: 5638554331 Release Date: 08/29/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Ja Hsieh
    CD: $37.99
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