Johann Sebastian Bach


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
J.S. Bach: Musikalisches Opfer / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 10/09/2017   Label: Bis  
Catalog: BIS-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: Magnificat in E-Flat Major & Missa in F Major / Gardiner
Release Date: 10/13/2017   Label: Soli Deo Gloria Records  
Catalog: 728   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Complete Edition
Release Date: 09/02/2014   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 1116165   Number of Discs: 142
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Schumann, Bach & Brahms / Argerich, Perlman
Release Date: 09/30/2016   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 557553   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Prelude

Browse 26-50 of 74 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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
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  • 27.
    Grondona Plays J.s. Bach
    Label: Stradivarius   Catalog: 33868 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Stefano Grondona
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  • 28.
    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,  Dubravka Tomsic,  Marian Pivka  ... 
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera,  Eugen Duvier,  Vladimir Petroschoff,  Libor Pesek  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salzburg Mozarteum Quartet
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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    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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  • 31.
    Essential Bach
    Label: Warner 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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  • 32.
    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,  William Bennett,  George Malcolm  ... 
    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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  • 33.
    J.s. Bach: 4 Harpsichord Suites
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 4689674 Release Date: 07/20/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Olivier Baumont
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  • 34.
    50 Classics For Relaxation / Ingman, Gerhardt, Gamley, Et Al
    Label: Time/Life Music   Catalog: 24742 Release Date: 06/30/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jules Massenet,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Johann Paul A. Martini  ... 
    Performer:  Keith Harvey,  José Luis Garcia,  Larry Dalton,  Skaila Kanga  ... 
    Conductor:  David Firman,  Franck Pourcel,  Charles Gerhardt,  Eric Hammerstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Franck Pourcel Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 35.
    Eternal Bach
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578024 Release Date: 01/27/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Marianne Beate Kielland,  János Sebestyén,  Christine Pichlmeier,  Lisa Stewart  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmut Müller-Brühl,  Mátyás Antal,  Jeremy Summerly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Chamber Orchestra,  Hungarian Radio Chorus,  Failoni Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 36.
    Bach: Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook / Gauvin, Beausejour, Istomin
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 22012 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Christian Pezold,  Gottfried H. Stölzel,  Georg Böhm
    Performer:  Luc Beauséjour,  Karina Gauvin,  Sergei Istomin
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  • 37.
    Adagios - Albinoni, Bach, Beethoven
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4695495 Release Date: 08/18/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Alison Bury,  Monica Huggett,  Jos Konings,  Paul Dombrecht  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Jean-François Paillard,  Ton Koopman,  Michel Corboz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra,  Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra  ... 
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  • 38.
    The Art Of The Harp / Giles, McGuire
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4766808 Release Date: 07/15/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  Christian Pezold,  Anonymous,  Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz  ... 
    Performer:  Marshall McGuire,  Alice Giles
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  • 39.
    Beautiful Wedding: Classical Music For The Wedding Dinner
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80718 Release Date: 05/20/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ottorino Respighi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Peabo Bryson,  Paquito D'Rivera,  Michael Camilo,  Kenny Blake  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos,  Martin Pearlman,  Keith Clark  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Chamber Orchestra,  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra,  Boston Baroque  ... 
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  • 40.
    Ultimate Classical Relaxation - The Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001079002 Release Date: 03/11/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
    Performer:  Alicia de Larrocha,  Neil Black,  Tess Miller,  Carmel Kaine  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Münchinger,  Sir Neville Marriner,  András Schiff,  Thurston Dart  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe  ... 
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  • 41.
    Breathe - The Relaxing Baroque
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80713 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  John O'Conor
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  • 42.
    Soli Deo Gloria - Bach / Glenn H. Strauss
    Label: Eroica Classical Recordings   Catalog: 3189 Release Date: 01/01/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Agustín Barrios Mangoré,  Isaac Albeniz,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Glenn H. Strauss
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  • 43.
    J.s. Bach: Partita No. 3, Bwv 1006 ; Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring
    Label: Nalu Music   Catalog: 64032 Release Date: 08/30/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
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  • 44.
    Best Piano Classics 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 70886 Release Date: 08/29/2006   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini,  John Ogdon,  Stanislav Bunin,  Moura Lympany  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Simon Rattle,  Riccardo Muti,  George Szell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borodin String Quartet members,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 45.
    Pianorama - Cinematic Music / Roland Pöntinen
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1326 Release Date: 06/27/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nino Rota,  Gioachino Rossini,  Frédéric Chopin,  Leos Janácek  ... 
    Performer:  Roland Pöntinen
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  • 46.
    Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook / Stolte, Collum, Leib
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 3232 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Herbert Collum,  Günther Leib,  Adele Stolte
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  • 47.
    Breathe - The Relaxing Piano
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80652 Release Date: 08/23/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Ennio Morricone,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Chertock,  André Arpino,  Vincent Charbonnier,  Jacques Loussier  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras,  David Zinman,  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jacques Loussier Trio,  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 48.
    Breathe - The Relaxing Guitar
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80512 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Maxwell Davies,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sting,  Joaquin Rodrigo  ... 
    Performer:  David Russell,  Angel Romero,  William Kanengiser,  Scott Tennant  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Guitar Quartet,  Naples Philharmonic Florida
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  • 49.
    Chill With Bach
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8556786 Release Date: 07/20/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Hae-Won Chang,  Alexander Rudin,  Lucy Van Dael,  Bob van Asperen  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Stankovsky,  Helmut Müller-Brühl,  Jeremy Summerly,  Géza Oberfrank  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Cassovia,  Cologne Chamber Orchestra,  Schola Cantorum Oxford  ... 
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  • 50.
    The Best Of Play Bach / Jacques Loussier Trio
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 63590 Release Date: 02/24/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jacques Loussier Trio
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