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: Partitas / Igor Levit
Release Date: 08/25/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 307630   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier I / Aimard
Release Date: 08/19/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002119902   Number of Discs: 2
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W. F. Bach: Sinfonias / Haenchen, C. P. E. Bach Kammerorchester
Release Date: 06/24/2014   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94690   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach / Lisa Batiashvili
Release Date: 09/16/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002133702   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Toccata & Fugue; Thalben-Ball, Boellmann / James Parsons
Release Date: 10/12/2010   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28580   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043

Browse 76-100 of 170 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Bach: Ses Plus Beaux Chefs-d'oeuvre
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 379347 Release Date: 01/13/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Werner Jacob,  Jonathan Rees,  Jane Murdoch,  Marc Hantaï  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Parrott,  Philip Ledger,  Jonathan Rees,  Monica Huggett  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Scottish Ensemble  ... 
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  • 77.
    Bach: Violin Concertos, Chaconne / Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 391963 Release Date: 01/13/2008  
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  George Enescu
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra
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  • 78.
    Bach: Violin Concertos, Etc / Menuhin, Enescu, Monteux, Et Al
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 91962 Release Date: 09/18/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra
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  • 79.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Zukerman, English Co
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 60718 Release Date: 09/11/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  José Luis Garcia
    Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 80.
    Classic Fm Babies
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5301220 Release Date: 07/23/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Erik Satie,  Pietro Mascagni,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
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  • 81.
    The Huberman Festival / Mehta, Zukerman, Stern, Perlman
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4250 Release Date: 06/26/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Isaac Stern,  Shlomo Mintz,  Itzhak Perlman  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 82.
    Bach, Mozart, Brahms: Concertos / Jascha Heifetz, Et Al
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 704605 Release Date: 01/23/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gregor Piatigorsky,  Jascha Heifetz,  William Primrose,  Thornton Lofthouse  ... 
    Conductor:  Alfred Wallenstein,  Izler Solomon,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra
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  • 83.
    Ultimate Bach - The Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000765902 Release Date: 11/14/2006   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  András Schiff,  Arthur Grumiaux,  Carlo Curley
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 84.
    Bach: Violin Concertos, Etc / Hope, Bezuidenhout, Et Al
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 62545 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Daniel Hope,  Jaime Martin,  Kristian Bezuidenhout,  Marieke Blankestijn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
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  • 85.
    Bach: Violin Concertos
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4765691 Release Date: 09/11/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Richard Tognetti,  Diana Doherty,  Helena Rathbone
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  • 86.
    Baby Got Bach / Lumiere String Quartet
    Label: Lumiere Records   Catalog: 5637381127 Release Date: 08/22/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Sato Moughalian
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lumiere String Quartet
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  • 87.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Karl Suske, Giorgio Krohner
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 1371 Release Date: 08/22/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Karl Suske,  Giorgio Kröhner
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
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  • 88.
    Handel, Bach, Vivaldi: Concerti / Academy Of Ancient Music
    Label: Wigmore Hall Live   Catalog: 5 Release Date: 04/18/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Pavlo Beznosiuk,  Rachel Podger,  Frank De Bruine
    Conductor:  Pavlo Beznosiuk
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
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  • 89.
    Kennedy Plays Bach
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 32341 Release Date: 01/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi
    Performer:  Nigel Kennedy,  Juliet Welchman,  Fionnuala Hunt,  Aisling Casey
    Conductor:  Nigel Kennedy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Chamber Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 90.
    Very Best Of Bach
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 338158 Release Date: 01/13/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Werner Jacob,  Jonathan Rees,  Jane Murdoch,  Marc Hantaï  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Parrott,  Philip Ledger,  Jonathan Rees,  Monica Huggett  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Taverner Consort,  Scottish Ensemble  ... 
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  • 91.
    Weekend Classics - A Bach Weekend
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000577102 Release Date: 01/10/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Boston Pops,  Sweden Orpheus Chamber Ensemble
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  • 92.
    Moscow Virtuosi - Bach, Mozart
    Label: Imports (Dvd)   Catalog: 790664 Release Date: 11/22/2005  
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Alexei Utkin,  Vladimir Spivakov,  Arkady Futer
    Conductor:  Vladimir Spivakov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra
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  • 93.
    Bach: Violin Concertos /  Rees, Et Al
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 62494 Release Date: 03/29/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jonathan Rees,  Jane Murdoch,  Nicholas Daniel
    Conductor:  Jonathan Rees
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Ensemble
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  • 94.
    Bach: Violin Concertos;  Handel / Sillito, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 964890 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Kenneth Sillito,  Hugh Bean,  Nicolas Kynaston
    Conductor:  Arthur Davison
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi of England
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  • 95.
    Original Masters - Wolfgang Schneiderhan: 1950s Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4775263 Release Date: 02/08/2005   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Frank Martin,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Schneiderhan,  Rudolf Baumgartner,  Claude Starck
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Rudolf Baumgartner,  Paul Van Kempen,  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Lucerne Festival Strings,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 96.
    Expanded Edition - J.s. Bach / Stern, Et Al
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 92732 Release Date: 07/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Itzhak Perlman,  John Steele Ritter,  Jean-Pierre Rampal  ... 
    Conductor:  Isaac Stern,  Alexander Schneider,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra members,  English Chamber Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic
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  • 97.
    Bach: Concerts Avec Plusieurs Instruments Vol 2 / Cafe Zimmermann
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 48 Release Date: 07/20/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Antoine Torunczyk,  Amandine Beyer,  Pablo Valetti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Café Zimmermann
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  • 98.
    Expanded Edition - Bach: Violin Concertos / Isaac Stern
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 93017 Release Date: 02/24/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Harold Gomberg,  Isaac Stern,  Itzhak Perlman
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Zubin Mehta,  Alexander Schneider
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 99.
    Oistrakh, Menuhin, Rostropovich - Bach, Mozart, Brahms: Concertos
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 90450 Release Date: 02/10/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Igor Oistrakh,  David Oistrakh,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Pierre Capdevielle,  Kiril Kondrashin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra,  ORTF National Orchestra
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  • 100.
    Mendelssohn, Panufnik, Takemitsu, Bach / Alexander Sitkovetsky
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 57440 Release Date: 01/13/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Toru Takemitsu,  Andrzej Panufnik,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Dmitri Sitkovetsky,  Alexander Sitkovetsky
    Conductor:  Dmitri Sitkovetsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New European Strings
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