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: Secular Cantatas, Vol. 7 / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 09/09/2016   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2191   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Kantaten No. 16 / Lutz, J.S. Bach-Stiftung Orchestra
Release Date: 09/09/2016   Label: J.s. Bach Stifung  
Catalog: 431   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Goldberg Variations - Buxtehude: La capricciosa / Schornsheim
Release Date: 09/09/2016   Label: Capriccio Records  
Catalog: 5286   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

Browse 26-50 of 199 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Bach/Gould Project / Catalyst Quartet
    Label: Azica   Catalog: 71300 Release Date: 04/28/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Glenn Gould
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Catalyst Quartet
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  • 27.
    111 - The Piano - Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002281002 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Géza Anda,  Martha Argerich,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $162.49
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  • 28.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Labadie, Les Violons du Roy
    Label: Atma Classique   Catalog: 2723 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Bernard Labadie
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Violons du Roy
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  • 29.
    Bach: Variations Goldberg  / Geoffroy, Ensemble Tactus
    Label: Skarbo   Catalog: 4147 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Jean Geoffroy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tactus Ensemble
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  • 30.
    Bach: Goldberg Variationen / Konstantin Lifschitz
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 864141 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Konstantin Lifschitz
    CD: $22.49
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  • 31.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Gould, Britten Sinfonia
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807633 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Thomas Gould
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Britten Sinfonia
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  • 32.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Andrea Padova
    Label: Stradivarius   Catalog: 37001 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Andrea Padova
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  • 33.
    J.s. Bach: Goldberg-variationen [cd+2015 Catalogue]
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2902058 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Andreas Staier
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  • 34.
    Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations / Tureck
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002234802 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Rosalyn Tureck
    CD: $34.99
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  • 35.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations (Including Documentary) / Zhu Xiao-Mei
    Label: Accentus   Catalog: 20313 Release Date: 10/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Zhu Xiao-Mei
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  • 36.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Anastasia Voltchok
    Label: Solo Musica   Catalog: 209 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Anastasia Voltchok
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  • 37.
    Kawamura Plays Goldberg
    Label: Claudio   Catalog: 6018 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ferruccio Busoni,  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Sachiko Kawamura
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  • 38.
    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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  • 39.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations on Guitar / Salcito
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 7699 Release Date: 07/29/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Marco Salcito
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  • 40.
    Bach: Werke fur Cembalo / Hans Pischner
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300570 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hans Pischner,  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Max Michailow  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling,  Helmut Koch,  Kurt Redel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Chamber Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle
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  • 41.
    Howard Karp: Concert Recordings (1962-2007)
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1492 Release Date: 05/20/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Leon Kirchner,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Howard Karp
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  • 42.
    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: $113.49
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  • 43.
    Bach: Keyboard Masterworks / Rangell
    Label: Steinway & Sons   Catalog: 30024 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Andrew Rangell
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  • 44.
    Das Alte Werk - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 46438 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Herbert Tachezi,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Frans Brüggen,  Jeannette Van Wingerden  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Werner Ehrhardt,  Giovanni Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Leonhardt Consort,  Studio for Early Music  ... 
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  • 45.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Michael Tsalka
    Label: Paladino Music   Catalog: 32 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Michael Tsalka
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  • 46.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Robert Costin
    Label: Stone Records   Catalog: 8029 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Robert Costin
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  • 47.
    Piano Seasons / Grete Sultan
    Label: Wergo   Catalog: 4043 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  John Cage,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Grete Sultan
    CD: $39.99
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  • 48.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Jeremy Denk
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 535452 Release Date: 09/30/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jeremy Denk
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  • 49.
    Bach's Goldberg Variations For Two Pianos By Rheinberger/Reger
    Label: Twopianists (Label)   Catalog: 1039213 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Nina Schumann,  Luis Magalhaes
    CD: $17.99
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  • 50.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations / Pierre Hantai
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 40029 Release Date: 08/06/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pierre Hantaď
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