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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: 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 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: 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: Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043

Browse 1-25 of 157 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Carmignola, Concerto Koln
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 002167502 Release Date: 11/04/2014  
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Giuliano Carmignola,  Mayumi Hirasaki
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne
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  • 2.
    Leonard Bernstein Edition - Concertos & Orchestral Works
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301330 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 80
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Leonard Bernstein,  Harold Gomberg,  William Heim  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Seiji Ozawa,  Maurice Peress
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  New York Philharmonic members,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    The Originals - Legendary Recordings from DG
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002171502 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Pierre Fournier,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  David Oistrakh,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Franz Konwitschny,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    On sale! $159.98
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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    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
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  • 6.
    Bach: Concertos
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002127 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh
    Conductor:  Rudolf Barshai
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  • 7.
    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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  • 8.
    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
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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    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 T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Juilliard String Quartet,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 11.
    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  ... 
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  • 12.
    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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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    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,  Daniel Benyamini,  Pinchas Zukerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    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
    CD: $45.49
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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    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,  Heinrich Bruckner  ... 
    Conductor:  Christian Birnbaum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baroque Ensemble of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $48.99
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  • 19.
    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
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  • 20.
    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
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  • 21.
    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
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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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