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 / Joshua Bell
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 308779   Number of Discs: 1
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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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Bach: Orchestral Works & Concertos / Kuijken, La Petite Bande [5-CD Set]
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 7683852   Number of Discs: 5
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Glenn Gould Plays Bach
Release Date: 06/12/2012   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 683932   Number of Discs: 6
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Work: Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043

Browse 26-50 of 176 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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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  • 27.
    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
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  • 28.
    The Baroque Collection
    Label: Warner 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  ... 
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  • 29.
    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  ... 
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  • 30.
    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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  • 31.
    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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  • 32.
    Bach: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2;  Vivaldi / Oistrakh
    Label: Dg Galleria   Catalog: 2029505 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Igor Oistrakh,  David Oistrakh
    Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 33.
    Bach: Violin Concertos
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001706002 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Heinz Holliger
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  • 34.
    Jascha Heifetz Plays Bach & Vieuxtemps
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 1919 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henri Vieuxtemps,  Louis Gruenberg,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Pierre Monteux,  Franz Waxman
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  • 35.
    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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  • 36.
    Air: The Bach Album / Meyers, Mercurio, English Chamber Orchestra
    Label: eOne   Catalog: 7785 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Anne Akiko Meyers
    Conductor:  Steven Mercurio
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 37.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: ARPCD0294 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Adolf Busch,  Frances Magnes,  Rudolf Serkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adolf Busch Chamber Players
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  • 38.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: ARPCD0476 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ernest Chausson
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh
    Conductor:  Fritz Rieger,  Franz Konwitschny,  Kiril Kondrashin
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  • 39.
    Label: Pan Classics   Catalog: 10277 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Gunar Letzbor
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ars Antiqua Austria
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  • 40.
    Bach, Vivaldi: Double Concertos / Zukerman, Midori
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802078 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Midori
    Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
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  • 41.
    The Art of Salvatore Accardo - Una Vita per il Violino
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 959877 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Niccolò Paganini,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Margaret Batjer,  Douglas Boyd
    Conductor:  Salvatore Accardo,  Charles Dutoit,  Sir Colin Davis,  Kurt Masur
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  I Solisti di Napoli,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 42.
    Bach & Schnittke
    Label: Quartz Records   Catalog: 2083 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfred Schnittke,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Dmitri Bulgakov,  Maria Alikhanova,  Fyodor Stroganov
    Conductor:  Misha Rachlevsky
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  • 43.
    Violin Concertos - Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94096 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Antonín Dvorák,  Niccolò Paganini,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Alexandre Dubach,  Ilya Grubert,  Borika Van Den Booren  ... 
    Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin,  Michel Sasson,  Lawrence Foster,  Igor Golovschin  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 44.
    Johann Sebastian Bach: Violin Concertos Bwv 1041 & 1042; Concerto For 2 Violins Bwv 1043
    Label: Cascavelle   Catalog: 3121 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pierre Amoyal,  Tedi Papavrami,  Maurice Bourgue
    Conductor:  Pierre Amoyal
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata de Lausanne
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  • 45.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 6 - 1946-1947
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61737 Release Date: 04/21/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,  Maurice Ravel,  Nikolai Medtner  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  Stanley Chaloupka
    Conductor:  Franz Waxman,  William Steinberg,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Chamber Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 46.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Orchestral Suites, Concertos / Pinnock [8-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 001538502 Release Date: 04/19/2011   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Trevor Pinnock,  Lisa Beznosiuk,  Simon Standage,  Rachel Beckett  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
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  • 47.
    Bach: Concertos For Flute, Oboe & Violin (Reconstructed By C. Hogwood) / Marriner
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4802202 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Neil Black,  Ronald Thomas,  Carmel Kaine,  Richard Studt  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 48.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Francescatti, Baumgartner, Lucerne Festival Strings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 429151 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Zino Francescatti,  Régis Pasquier
    Conductor:  Rudolf Baumgartner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lucerne Festival Strings
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  • 49.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Perlman, Zukerman, Barenboim, English Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 18700 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 50.
    Bach, Mozart, Brahms: Violin Concertos / David Oistrakh
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5012 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  David Oistrakh
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Yehudi Menuhin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
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