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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
Bach: The Art of Fugue / Angela Hewitt
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67980   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Christmas Oratorio / Layton, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Trinity College Choir
Release Date: 11/12/2013   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 68031   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach, Handel, Scarlatti: Gamba Sonatas / Isserlis, Egarr
Release Date: 09/11/2015   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 68045   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach, Beethoven, Rzewski / Igor Levit
Release Date: 10/30/2015   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 506096   Number of Discs: 3
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Bach: Mass in B Minor / Gardiner
Release Date: 11/13/2015   Label: Soli Deo Gloria Records  
Catalog: 722   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Suite for Orchestra no 2: Badinerie

Browse 1-25 of 94 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    100 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002188102 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Edvard Grieg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Lorin Maazel,  Neeme Järvi,  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Neeme Järvi,  Herbert von Karajan,  George Szell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theater Violin Ensemble,  Ansbach Bach Week Soloists Union,  Salzburg Mozarteum Camerata Academica  ... 
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  • 2.
    Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni - Piano Transcriptions / Scipione Sangiovanni
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 14015 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jean-Baptiste Lully
    Performer:  Scipione Sangiovanni
    CD: $17.99
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  • 3.
    James Galway - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 302633 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Arthur Smith,  Various,  Traditional,  Stan Lebowsky  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Sylvia,  Marisa Robles,  Phillip Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Galway Pops Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $199.98
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  • 4.
    Classic Karajan: The Essential Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002092702 Release Date: 07/15/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Gustav Mahler,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  José Carreras,  Ingrid Steger,  Lilo Brockhaus  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 5.
    Arioso & Brillante / Peter Kofler, Gabor Tarkovi
    Label: Tudor Records   Catalog: 7184 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jeremiah Clarke,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Georg Philipp Telemann  ... 
    Performer:  Gábor Tarkövi,  Peter Kofler
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 6.
    Pure Classical 1
    Label: Water Music Records   Catalog: 434 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Johann Pachelbel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Nick White,  Hans Lima
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adagio Quartet,  Trio Adagio,  Quartet Paris  ... 
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  • 7.
    The Sound of Alison Balsom
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 19162 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Giuseppe Torelli,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Alison Balsom,  Alastair Ross,  Colm Carey,  Iestyn Davies
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock,  Edward Gardner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert,  Scottish Ensemble,  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $27.99
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  • 8.
    Discover... Bach
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001909902 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Simon Preston,  Mischa Maisky,  Trevor Pinnock,  Simon Standage  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock,  John E. Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert,  English Baroque Soloists
    CD: $6.99
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  • 9.
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4765171 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners,  Sir William Walton,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Wilhelm Kempff  ... 
    Performer:  Antony Gray
    On sale! $42.98
    CD: $36.99
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  • 10.
    Label: Avalon   Catalog: 59799 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 11.
    Musique De Chambre
    Label: Disques A Tempo   Catalog: 5637995910 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alessandro Stradella,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Jacques Castérčde,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Veronique Lucignano,  Roger-Luc Chayer,  Louise-Andrée Baril
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintette National
    CD: $14.99
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  • 12.
    L'Art de la Flute de Pan / Simon Stanciu
    Label: Cascavelle   Catalog: 3140 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Domenico Cimarosa,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Luigi Boccherini  ... 
    Performer:  Simion Stanciu Syrinx,  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Alexandre Lagoya,  Marielle Nordmann
    Conductor:  Jean-Pierre Berlingen,  Edmond de Stoutz,  Hans Graf,  Claudio Scimone  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Normandy Orchestral Ensemble,  Zurich Chamber Orchestra,  Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $67.98
    CD: $52.99
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  • 13.
    Albinoni: Adagio; Pachelbel: Canon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001703302 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Meyer,  Heinz Holliger,  Eric Wyrick,  Eric Bartlett  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock,  Rafael Kubelik,  Alexander Van Wijnkoop,  Claudio Abbado  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici
    CD: $6.99
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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    Bach In Jazz / Martin Petzold, Stephan Konig Trio
    Label: Rondeau Productions   Catalog: 6048 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Martin Petzold
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stephan König Trio
    CD: $18.99
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  • 16.
    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,  Adele Stolte  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmut Koch,  Hans-Joachim Rotzsch,  Martin Flämig,  Rudolf Mauersberger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum Leipzig
    CD: $14.99
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  • 17.
    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
    CD: $24.99
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  • 18.
    My First Classical Music Album
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578203 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Antonio Vivaldi,  John Adams,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Dong-Suk Kang,  Pascal Devoyon,  Jürgen Schuster  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Halász,  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Marin Alsop,  Mats Rondin  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 19.
    Label: Passion For Pipes   Catalog: 5637815613 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Czerny,  Matt Dickerson,  Denis Bédard,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  David Kevin Lamb
    CD: $16.99
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  • 20.
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 1303 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Denis Fedorov,  Michel Tirabosco
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Concordia Discors
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 21.
    Past Future: Arrangements For Electric Bass
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572650 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jan Alm,  Henry Eccles,  Magnus Rosen,  Jimi Hendrix  ... 
    Performer:  Magnus Rosen,  Susana Risberg
    Conductor:  David Björkman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  Hvila String Quartet
    CD: $12.99
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  • 22.
    Bach: Toccata & Fugue, Brandenburg Concerto No 4; Air On A G String / Carney
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks   Catalog: 28900 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jonathan Carney
    Conductor:  Jonathan Carney
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 23.
    Best Of Classics - Bach, Beethoven, Strauss, Vivaldi, Dvorak, Chopin, Mozart
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4013 Release Date: 10/26/2010   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Antonín Dvorák,  Leos Janácek  ... 
    Performer:  Jiri Reinberger,  Jan Kalfus,  Miroslav Kejmar,  Zuzana Ruzicková  ... 
    Conductor:  Bohumil Kulínsky,  Jaroslav Krcek,  Milan Munclinger,  Josef Vlach  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Children's Chorus,  Musica Bohemica,  Ars Rediviva  ... 
    CD: $54.49
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  • 24.
    Bach / Richard Galliano
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001444602 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Raphaël Pidoux,  Jean-Marc Phillips,  Jean-Marc Apap,  Richard Galliano  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 25.
    Top 100 Favorite Classical Melodies
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94027 Release Date: 05/04/2010   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Georges Bizet,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Sara Crombach,  Wladislav Warenberg,  Martijn van den Hoek,  Marc Grauwels  ... 
    Conductor:  Bohdan Warchal,  Enrique Bátiz,  Mark Ermler,  Georgi Robev  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Harp Ensemble,  London Baroque,  Musica ad Rhenum  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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