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: The Well-Tempered Clavier I / Aimard
Release Date: 08/19/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002119902   Number of Discs: 2
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W. F. Bach: Sinfonias / Haenchen, C. P. E. Bach Kammerorchester
Release Date: 06/24/2014   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94690   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach / Lisa Batiashvili
Release Date: 09/16/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002133702   Number of Discs: 1
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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: Suite for Orchestra no 2: Badinerie

Browse 126-137 of 137 Available Recordings
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  • 126.
    Dances For Flute / James Galway
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 60917 Release Date: 02/09/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Saverio Mercadante,  Fritz Kreisler,  François Joseph Gossec  ... 
    Performer:  Kevin Conneff,  James Galway,  Marisa Robles,  Graham Oppenheimer
    Conductor:  Marisa Robles,  Claudio Scimone,  Charles Gerhardt,  James Galway  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Marisa Robles Harp Ensemble,  The Chieftains,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 127.
    Best Of Baroque Music / Edlinger, Capella Istropolitana
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550014 Release Date: 02/04/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Ladislav Kyselak,  Alexander Jablokov,  Anna Hölbling,  Quido Hölbling  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
    CD: $9.99
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  • 128.
    Baroque Collection - Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, Pachelbel, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67425 Release Date: 09/29/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Michel Richard Delalande  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Debost,  Lionel Rogg,  Elaine Shaffer,  Thierry Caens  ... 
    Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Raymond Leppard,  Jean-Pierre Wallez,  Louis Auriacombe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Paris Orchestral Ensemble  ... 
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  • 129.
    The Criminal Trombone / Christian Lindberg, Roland Pöntinen
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 328 Release Date: 09/03/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Roland Pöntinen,  Christian Lindberg
    CD: $21.49
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  • 130.
    Bach Collection
    Label: American Gramaphone   Catalog: 592 Release Date: 09/01/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  John Rutter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of London Sinfonia
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  • 131.
    The Bells Of St Genevieve And Other Baroque Favorites
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 61002 Release Date: 01/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Jean Joseph Mouret,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Spivakov,  James Galway,  Pinchas Zukerman
    Conductor:  Vladimir Spivakov,  Rudolf Baumgartner,  Richard Westenburg,  James Galway  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Lucerne Festival Strings  ... 
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  • 132.
    Bach - Greatest Hits
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 60828 Release Date: 09/06/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Virgil Fox,  James Galway,  Josef Suk,  Aurèle Nicolet  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski,  Arthur Fiedler,  James Galway,  Rudolf Baumgartner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Pops,  Zagreb Soloists  ... 
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  • 133.
    The Pachelbel Canon and other Baroque Melodies / Paillard
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 65468 Release Date: 07/01/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Domenico Zipoli  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Luc Ramecourt,  Pierre Pierlot,  Gérard Jarry,  Christian Larde  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-François Paillard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paillard Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 134.
    Dinner Classics - Sunday Brunch Vol 2
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 46359 Release Date: 01/09/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Domenico Scarlatti,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Judith Norell,  Christian Schneider,  André Saint-Clivier,  Pinchas Zukerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Kapp,  Jean-Claude Malgoire,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Raymond Leppard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Virtuosi,  La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 135.
    Greatest Hits Of 1721 / Richard Kapp, Philharmonia Virtuosi
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 35821 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Paul A. Martini,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Kapp
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Virtuosi
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  • 136.
    Pachelbel's Canon - Baroque Favorites / Leppard, English CO
    Label: Cbs Great Performances   Catalog: 38482 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jean Joseph Mouret  ... 
    Performer:  André Saint-Clivier,  Christian Schneider,  Takashi Ochi,  John Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-Claude Malgoire,  Siegfried Behrend,  John Williams,  Raymond Leppard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy,  German Mandolin Orchestra,  Seville Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 137.
    Concerto / Richard Clayderman
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 44739 Release Date: 05/26/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Erik Satie,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Clayderman
    Conductor:  Roger Berthier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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