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: Mass in B Minor / Christie, Les Arts Florissants
Release Date: 04/13/2018   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 8905293   Number of Discs: 2
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The Complete Bach Edition
Release Date: 02/23/2018   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 567107   Number of Discs: 153
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Bach: The Cello Suites - According to Anna Magdalena / Haimovitz
Release Date: 10/09/2015   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 186555   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin / Fischer
Release Date: 09/01/2017   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186682   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Sonatas for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord / Vaughan, Tibbles
Release Date: 04/06/2018   Label: Paladino Music  
Catalog: 90   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, BWV 1041

Browse 1-25 of 151 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Complete Bach Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 567107 Release Date: 02/23/2018   Number of Discs: 153
    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  ... 
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  • 2.
    Bach Meets Vivaldi / Lautten Compagney Berlin
    Label: K & K Verlagsanstalt   Catalog: 129 Release Date: 02/16/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi
    Performer:  Julia Schröder,  Birgit Schnurpfeil,  Matthias Hummel,  Daniela Gubatz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lautten Compagney
    CD: $18.99
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  • 3.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Zimmermann, Berliner Barock Solisten
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 17046 Release Date: 01/19/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Serge Zimmermann,  Frank Peter Zimmermann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Baroque Soloists
    CD: $18.99
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  • 4.
    Endre Wolf in Sweden (Studio & Private Recordings: 1944-78)
    Label: Danacord   Catalog: DACOCD763-768 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anton von Webern,  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Endre Wolf,  Hans Leygraf,  Erling Blondal Bengtsson,  Sixten Eckerberg
    Conductor:  Michael Gielen,  Endre Wolf,  Stig Westerberg,  Sergiu Commissiona  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  Copenhagen Chamber Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Stockholm  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 5.
    Bach in Black / Sinkovsky, La Voce Strumentale
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 30567 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Dmitry Sinkovsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Voce Strumentale
    CD: $17.99
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  • 6.
    Joshua Bell: The Classical Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 539520 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Alexander Courage,  George Gershwin,  Nicholas Maw,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Joshua Bell,  John Williams,  Craig Ogden,  Gregory Knowles  ... 
    Conductor:  John Williams,  Roger Norrington,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  David Zinman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 7.
    Bachiana / Fateyeva
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300909 Release Date: 05/19/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Heitor Villa-Lobos
    Performer:  Asya Fateyeva,  Erik Schumann
    Conductor:  Ruben Gazarian
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn
    CD: $18.99
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  • 8.
    Bach & Vivaldi for Mandolin / Frati, Mandolin Orchestra Mauro e Claudio Terroni
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 7787 Release Date: 04/28/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi
    Performer:  Dorina Frati,  Silvia Tenchini,  Grazia Maugeri,  Monica Baronio  ... 
    Conductor:  Dorina Frati
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mandolin Orchestra Mauro e Claudio Terroni
    CD: $18.99
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  • 9.
    Complete Concerto Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon / Kremer
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002582102 Release Date: 11/18/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Alban Berg,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Heinz Holliger,  Mischa Maisky,  Rainer Keuschnig  ... 
    Conductor:  Gidon Kremer,  Pierre Boulez,  Sir Colin Davis,  Emil Tchakarov  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $120.49
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  • 10.
    Charles Munch: The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 516979 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 86
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Vincent D'Indy  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Artur Rubinstein,  Margaret Roggero,  Leslie Chabey  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Harvard Glee Club  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $226.99
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  • 11.
    Bach / Radulovic
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002560102 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johann Christian Bach
    Performer:  Nemanja Radulovic,  Tijana Miloševi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Trilles Du Diable
    CD: $17.99
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  • 12.
    Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos, Violin Concertos & Harpsichord Concertos
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88725463862 Release Date: 07/08/2016   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
    Performer:  Bob van Asperen,  Anthony Woodrow,  Frans Brüggen,  Gustav Leonhardt  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustav Leonhardt,  Jeanne Lamon
    CD: $19.99
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  • 13.
    Bach: Complete Concertos
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95303 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Erwin Wieringa,  Remy Baudet,  Frank De Bruine,  Teunis Van der Zwart  ... 
    Conductor:  Pieter-Jan Belder,  Burkhard Glaetzner,  Kurt Masur,  Donatas Katkus
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Amphion,  Amsterdam Bach Soloists,  Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum Leipzig  ... 
    CD: $44.49
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  • 14.
    Bach: Solo & Double Violin Concertos / Manze, Podger, Academy of Ancient Music
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 1957155 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Andrew Manze,  Rachel Podger
    Conductor:  Andrew Manze
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
    CD: $9.99
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  • 15.
    Archiv Produktion: Analogue Stereo Recordings (1959-1981)
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 002490502 Release Date: 05/20/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Pierre Vachon,  Nicolas-Marie Dalayrac,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Stader,  Hedwig Bilgram,  Hertha Töpper,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  August Wenzinger,  Karl Ristenpart,  Robert Stehli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir,  Loewenguth String Quartet  ... 
    Recommendation
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    CD: $106.49
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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  ... 
    CD: $58.49
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  • 18.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Bernardini, Dunedin Consort
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 519 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Cecilia Bernardini,  Alfredo Bernardini,  Huw Daniel
    Conductor:  John Butt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
    SuperAudio CD: $22.49
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  • 19.
    Jarzebski, Vivaldi, Bach, Pachelbel, Haydn, Lutoslawski
    Label: Dux Records   Catalog: 993 Release Date: 02/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Adam Jarzebski,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Performer:  Krzysztof Jakowicz
    Conductor:  Jan Milosz Zarzycki
    CD: $19.99
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  • 20.
    Bach's Greatest Hits / Royal Festival Orchestra, Bowles
    Label: Stradivari   Catalog: 6233 Release Date: 01/22/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Sarah Ainsworth,  Elizabeth Pendoff,  John Barrs
    Conductor:  William Bowles
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Festival Orchestra
    CD: $10.99
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  • 21.
    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
    CD: $34.99
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  • 22.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Paris Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 23.
    Bach: Violin Concertos, BWV 1041, 1042, 1052, 1055 & 1056 / Ibragimova, Arcangelo
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 68068 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Alina Ibragimova
    Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
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  • 24.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 25.
    J.s. Bach: Double Concerto; Violin Concerto No. 2; Violin Concertos; Concerto For Violin And Oboe
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552442 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Itzhak Perlman,  Neil Black
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    CD: $15.99
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