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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: Cantatas for Christmas / Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists
Release Date: 10/30/2012   Label: Soli Deo Gloria Records  
Catalog: 178   Number of Discs: 6
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Bach: Keyboard Works / Walcha
Release Date: 08/18/2017   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 563141   Number of Discs: 13
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J.S. Bach: Musikalisches Opfer / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 10/09/2017   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2151   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year / Kuijken, La Petite Bande
Release Date: 09/15/2017   Label: Accent  
Catalog: 25319   Number of Discs: 19
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Bach: Variations on Variations / Alessandrini
Release Date: 11/03/2017   Label: Naive  
Catalog: 30575   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

Browse 1-25 of 215 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations & Aria variata / Guglielmin
    Label: Onclassical   Catalog: 17111 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Elisabetta Guglielmin
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  • 2.
    Decca Sound: The Piano Edition
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4832243 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Julius Katchen,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  André Previn  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Bernard Haitink,  André Previn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Yilmaz
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 20035 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Kemal Cem Yilmaz
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  • 4.
    Bach: The Goldberg Variations - Remastered Edition (1955 Recording) / Gould
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985480742 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Glenn Gould
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  • 5.
    Bach: Variations on Variations / Alessandrini
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 30575 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
    Conductor:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Italiano
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  • 6.
    Les maitres du Baroque
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 372 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Jean-Baptiste Lully  ... 
    Performer:  Tomas Kral,  Daniel Elgersma,  Philippe Froeliger,  Lionel Meunier  ... 
    Conductor:  Chiara Banchini,  Lionel Meunier,  Raphaël Pichon,  Vincent Dumestre  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble 415,  Vox Luminis,  Café Zimmermann  ... 
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  • 7.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Seldom Sene Recorder Quintet
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95591 Release Date: 10/27/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seldom Sene
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  • 8.
    Karl Richter Edition
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 16010 Release Date: 10/20/2017   Number of Discs: 31
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Siegfried Meinecke,  Karl Richter,  Fritz Kiskalt,  Kurt Guntner  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Karl Richter Chamber Orchestra,  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Ansbach Bach Week Soloists  ... 
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  • 9.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations  Muller
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 17059 Release Date: 10/06/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean Muller
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  • 10.
    The Goldberg Variations: The Complete Unreleased Recording Sessions
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301488 Release Date: 09/29/2017   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Glenn Gould
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  • 11.
    Bach: Keyboard Works / Walcha
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563141 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha
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  • 12.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations & Its Predecessors / Armstrong
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 741608 Release Date: 07/28/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck,  John Bull,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Kit Armstrong
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  • 13.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations & Its Predecessors / Armstrong [Blu-ray]
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 741704 Release Date: 07/28/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck,  John Bull,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Kit Armstrong
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 14.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Schill, Worm, Trudinger
    Label: Imports   Catalog: 5078 Release Date: 05/12/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hartmut Schill,  Matthias Worm,  Tilman Trüdinger
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  • 15.
    The Murray Perahia Awards Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985413952 Release Date: 05/12/2017   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Murray Perahia
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  • 16.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Parnassi Musici
    Label: Mvc   Catalog: 5012 Release Date: 05/05/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parnassi musici
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  • 17.
    Bach: Works for Harpsichord / Lester
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 5946 Release Date: 05/05/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Richard Lester
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  • 18.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Belder
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95471 Release Date: 04/28/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pieter-Jan Belder
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  • 19.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Xiao-Mei [Vinyl]
    Label: Accentus   Catalog: ACC40372 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Zhu Xiao-Mei
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  • 20.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Rana
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 559510 Release Date: 02/24/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Beatrice Rana
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  • 21.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Pozzi
    Label: Pan Classics   Catalog: 10374 Release Date: 02/17/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Davide Pozzi
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  • 22.
    Bach: Variations & More / Gluxam
    Label: Fra Bernardo   Catalog: 1610921 Release Date: 01/20/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Wolfgang Gluxam
    CD: $29.99
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  • 23.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Prego
    Label: Glossa   Catalog: 923510 Release Date: 11/18/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Ignacio Prego
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  • 24.
    Murray Perahia Plays Bach: The Complete Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 0300829 Release Date: 11/11/2016   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Murray Perahia,  Leonore Smith,  Michael Cox,  Jakob Lindberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Murray Perahia
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 25.
    Bach: The Complete Keyboard Works / Ruzickova
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 557841 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Zuzana Ruzicková,  Jean-Pierre Rampal
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