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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: The Art of Fugue / Angela Hewitt
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67980   Number of Discs: 2
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Glenn Gould - The Complete Bach Collection
Release Date: 10/30/2012   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 196114   Number of Discs: 44
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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: The Six French Suites / Sergey Schepkin
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30046   Number of Discs: 2
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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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Work: Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Prelude

Browse 1-25 of 92 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Morgenlicht / Halsey, Rundfunkchor Berlin
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001833402 Release Date: 08/20/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Anonymous,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anders Ruuth  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Todtenhaupt,  Jörg Strodhoff
    Conductor:  Simon Halsey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Chorus
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  • 2.
    Piano Rhapsody / Roland Pontinen
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 9044 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Roland Pöntinen
    Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    J'ecoute Bach et Haendel avec ma maman
    Label: Mirare   Catalog: 206 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Anne Queffélec,  Xiao-Mei Zhu
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  • 4.
    Bach For Dummies [2011 Edition]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 21177 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    CD: $12.99
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  • 5.
    Best Of Bach
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300336 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Theo Adam,  Hans Pischner,  E. Power Biggs,  Günther Leib  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmut Koch,  Hans-Joachim Rotzsch,  Martin Flämig,  Rudolf Mauersberger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig New Bach Collegium Musicum
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  • 6.
    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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  • 7.
    Bach: Guitar Concertos / Xuefei Yang, Elias String Quartet
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 79018 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Xuefei Yang
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elias String Quartet
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  • 8.
    Thomas Newman: The Iron Lady - Music From The Motion Picture
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 91434 Release Date: 12/20/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leslie Stuart,  Thomas Newman,  Richard Rodgers,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Marni Nixon,  Deborah Kerr,  Yul Brynner,  Maria Callas  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Newman,  Tullio Serafin
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  • 9.
    50 Most Essential Bach Masterpieces
    Label: X5   Catalog: 113 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Henrik Mawe,  Klemens Schnorr,  Pieter Schoeman,  Vesselin Gellev  ... 
    Conductor:  David Parry,  Mikhail Gantvarg,  Jansug Kakhidze,  Saulius Sondeckis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Soloists,  Bach Collegium Japan,  Moravian Trio
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  • 10.
    The Rough Guide To Classical Composers: Bach (With Bonus Cd: Angela Hewitt Plays Bach)
    Label: Music Rough Guides   Catalog: 331241 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Steven Isserlis,  Angela Hewitt,  Johannette Zomer,  Thomas Schmogner
    Conductor:  Roy Goodman,  Harry Christophers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brandenburg Consort,  The Sixteen,  Purcell Quartet  ... 
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  • 11.
    Preludes Choisis
    Label: Divox   Catalog: 70201 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean Goverts
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  • 12.
    Rise Of The Masters: 100 Supreme Classical Masterpieces
    Label: X5 Music Group   Catalog: 107 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel,  Franz Schubert,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Jakob Lindberg,  Yoshikazu Mera,  Finghin Collins,  Dubravka Tomsic  ... 
    Conductor:  Nils-Erik Sparf,  Shigeo Genda,  Bohdan Warchal,  Masaaki Suzuki  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble,  Bach Collegium Japan,  Arion Trio  ... 
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  • 13.
    Smooth Dinner Classics: Beautiful Music For Two
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 10123 Release Date: 10/21/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Sylvia Cápová,  Christiane Jaccottet,  Marian Pivka,  Dubravka Tomsic  ... 
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera,  Eugen Duvier,  Vladimir Petroschoff,  Libor Pesek  ... 
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  • 14.
    Music For Healing At The Speed Of Sound, Vol. 1: Calm & Relaxing
    Label: Spring Hill Music   Catalog: 6601 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Stan Richardson,  Michael Hoppé,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
    Performer:  Michael O'Sulleabhain,  Stan Richardson,  Golana
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  • 15.
    Piano Dreams / Avis Romm
    Label: Opening Day   Catalog: 7411 Release Date: 08/16/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Avis Romm
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  • 16.
    Air: Best Of Bach
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 82151 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Peter Hurford,  Josef Suk,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Richard [Classical Keyboards] Egarr  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir David Willcocks,  Paul Tortelier,  Philip Ledger  ... 
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  • 17.
    Round About Bach
    Label: Fremeaux & Associes   Catalog: 529 Release Date: 05/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Lockwood,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Francis Lockwood,  Véronica Thomas,  Jerry de Villiers
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  • 18.
    Bach Highlights
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300202 Release Date: 04/12/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ferruccio Busoni
    Performer:  Christine Schornsheim,  Violetta Liebsch,  Armin Thalheim,  Mechtild Stark  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmut Koch,  Martin Flämig,  Burkhard Glaetzner,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Neues Bachisches Collegium
    CD: $17.99
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  • 19.
    Classical Wellness
    Label: Music & Melody   Catalog: 5002 Release Date: 12/03/2010   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Pietro Mascagni,  Claude Debussy,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Lelkes,  Iwan Czerkow,  Sylvia Cápová,  Christiane Jaccottet  ... 
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera,  Eugen Duvier,  Vladimir Petroschoff,  Libor Pesek  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mozarteum-Quartett Salzburg
    CD: $14.99
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  • 20.
    Meditations For Trumpet / Ronald Romm
    Label: Opening Day   Catalog: 9381 Release Date: 04/20/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Giacomo Puccini,  Robert Schumann,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Ronald Romm,  Avis Romm
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  • 21.
    George Walker - Great American Orchestral Music Vol 2
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1178 Release Date: 03/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Walker
    Performer:  Andrzej Krzyzanowski,  Gregory Walker
    Conductor:  Ian Hobson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Varsovia
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  • 22.
    Bach / Christophe Rousset
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 196 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Christoph Richter,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gottfried H. Stölzel
    Performer:  Christophe Rousset
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  • 23.
    Essential Bach
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 95424 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Philip Pickett,  Catherine Latham,  Iona Brown,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Wolfgang Gönnenwein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 24.
    Essential Baroque
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 95429 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Pachelbel,  George Frideric Handel,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Gerald Finley,  George Malcolm,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Stephen Cleobury,  Yehudi Menuhin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Lysy,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Early Music Consort of London  ... 
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  • 25.
    Label: Fisher-price   Catalog: 46697 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christian Pezold,  Johann Sebastian Bach
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