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: Partitas / Igor Levit
Release Date: 08/25/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 307630   Number of Discs: 2
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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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Glenn Gould Plays Bach
Release Date: 06/12/2012   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 683932   Number of Discs: 6
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Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier I / Aimard
Release Date: 08/19/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002119902   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Toccata & Fugue; Thalben-Ball, Boellmann / James Parsons
Release Date: 10/12/2010   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28580   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Prelude

Browse 26-50 of 103 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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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  • 27.
    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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  • 28.
    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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  • 29.
    Label: Fisher-price   Catalog: 46697 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christian Pezold,  Johann Sebastian Bach
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  • 30.
    State Of The Art - The Story Of Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001341102 Release Date: 12/15/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin,  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Rafal Blechacz,  Kathleen Battle,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Leonard Bernstein,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gabrieli Consort,  Andalucian Dogs
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  • 31.
    Bach Adagios
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001313002 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pepe Romero,  Heinz Holliger,  György Sebok,  János Starker  ... 
    Conductor:  Heinz Holliger,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Iona Brown,  Arpád Gerecz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Les Solistes Romands,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 32.
    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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  • 33.
    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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  • 34.
    Intimate Classics
    Label: Avalon Records   Catalog: 41337 Release Date: 06/01/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Donald Quan,  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Donald Quan,  Rob Piltch
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  • 35.
    The Number One Bach Album
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4765888 Release Date: 03/20/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Marisa Robles,  András Schiff,  Salvatore Accardo,  Pepe Romero  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  New Symphony Orchestra of London  ... 
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  • 36.
    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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  • 37.
    Martin Stadtfeld Uber Bedeutet Eigentlich
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 737574 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Spoken Word,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Martin Stadtfeld
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  • 38.
    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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  • 39.
    World Of Harp
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 433869 Release Date: 08/26/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alphonse Hasselmans,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Marisa Robles
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  • 40.
    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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  • 41.
    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,  Thomas Campion,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Marshall McGuire,  Alice Giles
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  • 42.
    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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  • 43.
    Classic Hits, Vol. 1
    Label: Bell'art   Catalog: 768332 Release Date: 03/25/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Bedrich Smetana,  Pietro Mascagni,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
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  • 44.
    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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  • 45.
    Elections Classiques, 2007
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 507538 Release Date: 01/13/2008   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Samuel Barber,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Patrice Fontanarosa,  Jan Talich,  Sesto Bruscantini,  Lambert Wilson  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Leonard Slatkin,  Paavo Järvi,  Vittorio Gui  ... 
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  • 46.
    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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  • 47.
    Piano Moods - A Collection of Romantic Melodies
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000872602 Release Date: 05/08/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Edvard Grieg,  Franz Liszt,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Mikhail Pletnev,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lazar Berman  ... 
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  • 48.
    The Best Bach
    Label: Vanguard   Catalog: 2015 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Mieczyslaw Horszowski,  Feliz Elias,  Joseph Brezina,  André Lardrot  ... 
    Conductor:  Felix Prohaska,  Antonio Janigro,  Johannes Somary,  Miltiades Caridis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Chamber Orchestra,  Camerata Romana,  I Solisti di Zagreb  ... 
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  • 49.
    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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  • 50.
    Bach And Beyond / Gabriela Montero
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64647 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gabriela Montero
    Performer:  Gabriela Montero
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