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: Lutheran Masses / Rilling
Release Date: 05/27/2008   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 7027   Number of Discs: 2
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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: 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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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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Work: Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043

Browse 1-25 of 170 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Baroque Virtuoso / Jeanne Lamon, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
    Label: Tafelmusik Media   Catalog: 1026 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Francesco Geminiani,  Johann Heinrich Schmelzer,  Heinrich Ignaz Biber  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanne Lamon
    Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
    CD: $18.99
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  • 2.
    Two X Four: Bach, Glass, Clyne, Ludwig
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 146 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Philip Glass,  Anna Clyne,  David Ludwig
    Performer:  Jaime Laredo,  Jennifer Koh
    Conductor:  Vinay Parameswaran
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Curtis 20/21 Ensemble
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  • 3.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $125.98
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  • 4.
    Itzhak Perlman - Concertos, Sonatas & More
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5438882 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Erich Leinsdorf,  André Previn,  John Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Juilliard String Quartet,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Jascha Heifetz Plays Great Violin Concertos
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 7761382 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Osian Ellis,  William Primrose,  Thornton Lofthouse  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Walter Hendl,  Sir Malcolm Sargent  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 6.
    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  ... 
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  • 7.
    Itzhak Perlman - 5 Classic Albums
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 939025 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Manuel de Falla,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Samuel Sanders
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim,  Lawrence Foster,  André Previn,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    The Hubermann Week Festival, 30th Anniversary
    Label: Helicon   Catalog: 29667 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Shlomo Mintz,  Isaac Stern,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Benyamini  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
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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.
    Passeur de souffle, de beaute...et d'exigence / Jacques Pache
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 1395 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Samuel Schroter,  George Frideric Handel,  Pier Francesco Cavalli,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Christiane Jaccottet,  Claudine Perret,  Eric Tappy,  Françoise Schiltknecht  ... 
    Conductor:  Jacques Pache
    On sale! $49.98
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  • 11.
    Vladimir Horowitz Live at Carnegie Hall
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 548417 Release Date: 09/30/2013   Number of Discs: 42
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Muzio Clementi  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Horowitz,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Isaac Stern,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini,  Leonard Bernstein,  Lyndon Woodside,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Oratorio Society of New York
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  • 12.
    Fiori Musicali
    Label: Solo Musica   Catalog: 190 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Giuseppe Sammartini,  Heinrich Ignaz Biber,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Lorena Espina,  Alexandra Uhlig,  Robert Buschek,  Klemens Sander  ... 
    Conductor:  Christian Birnbaum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baroque Ensemble of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 60th Anniversary Concert / Mehta, Barenboim
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2012744 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Ariel Shamai,  Maxim Vengerov,  Shlomo Mintz  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 14.
    Bach: Violin Concertos
    Label: Hi-q Records   Catalog: 9 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Christian Ferras
    Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin
    On sale! $52.98
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  • 15.
    J.S. Bach: Double & Triple Concertos / Podger, Bellamy, Pramsohler, Brecon Baroque
    Label: Channel Classics   Catalog: 34113 Release Date: 06/11/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Rachel Podger,  Bojan Cicic,  Alexandra Bellamy,  Johannes Pramsohler
    Conductor:  Rachel Podger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brecon Baroque
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  • 16.
    Bach: Violin Concertos, Double Concertos / Mikhail Gantvarg
    Label: Audiophile Classics   Catalog: 7701834 Release Date: 05/03/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Olga Martinova,  Michail Gantvarg,  Chanjafi Tchinakajev
    Conductor:  Michail Gantvarg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Soloists
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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    Bach: Violin Concertos,   Concerto For 3 Violins / Mullejans, Von Der Goltz, Schreiber
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 902145 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gottfried Von der Goltz,  Petra Müllejans,  Anne Katharina Schreiber
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Ingolfsdottir, Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Smekkleysa   Catalog: 15 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Rut Ingólfsdóttir,  Daoi Kolbeinsson,  Unnur Maria Ingolfsdottir
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Bach: Violin Concertos;  Vivaldi / Laredo, Scottish Co
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1170 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi
    Performer:  Jaime Laredo,  John Tunnell,  Haflidi Hallgrimsson,  Paul Manley
    Conductor:  Jaime Laredo
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Eschkenazy, Ogrintchouk, Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186460 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Vesko Eschkenazy,  Alexei Ogrintchouk
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 22.
    The Baroque Collection
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 73420 Release Date: 10/22/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Giovanni Palestrina  ... 
    Performer:  Xavier Darasse,  Maurice André,  Guy Touvron,  Pierre Pierlot  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Auriacombe,  Jörg Faerber,  Jacques Roussel,  Raymond Leppard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Chamber Orchestra,  Württemberg Chamber Orchestra,  Antiqua Musica  ... 
    On sale! $55.98
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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 636464 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
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