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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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Vivaldi, Bach: Magnificats, Concerti / Savall
Release Date: 12/09/2014   Label: Alia Vox  
Catalog: 9909   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Suite for Orchestra no 2: Badinerie

Browse 26-50 of 124 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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
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  • 27.
    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  ... 
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  • 28.
    50 Best Bach
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 57496 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Richard Boothby,  Peter Kooy,  Christoph Prégardien,  Catherine Patriasz  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger,  Wolfgang Gönnenwein,  Andrew Parrott,  Philippe Herreweghe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consortium Musicum,  Taverner Players,  La Petite Bande  ... 
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  • 29.
    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  ... 
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  • 30.
    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,  Vladislaw 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  ... 
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  • 31.
    Bach Handel 300 / Graziano Mandozzi
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415110 Release Date: 02/25/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Graziano Mandozzi
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  • 32.
    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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  • 33.
    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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  • 34.
    Send In The Clowns / London Brass
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 4686174 Release Date: 01/11/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Stephen Foster,  Julius Fucik,  Jan Koetsier  ... 
    Performer:  Andrew Crowley,  Mark Bennett,  Robert Farley,  Anne McAneny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Brass
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  • 35.
    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
    CD: $107.49
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  • 36.
    James Galway - Celebrating 70: A Collection Of Personal Favorites
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 742201 Release Date: 07/28/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Albert Franz Doppler,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Elton John,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Performer:  Phillip Moll,  Jeanne Galway,  James Galway,  Sarah Cunningham  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt,  Vincent Fanuele,  Henry Mancini,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Galway Pops Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 37.
    Bach Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 742557 Release Date: 03/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gottfried H. Stölzel
    Performer:  Hilary Hahn,  E. Power Biggs,  Andrea Marcon,  Peter Serkin
    Conductor:  Vladimir Spivakov,  Eugene Ormandy,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  James Galway
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  I Solisti di Zagreb  ... 
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  • 38.
    Best Encores 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64752 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Alexander Goedicke,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Teodor Grigoriu,  Ernesto De Curtis  ... 
    Performer:  Ole Edvard Antonsen,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Placido Domingo,  Cheryl Studer  ... 
    Conductor:  John Barker,  Asher Fisch,  Sir Andrew Davis,  Franz Welser-Möst  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Theater Opera Orchestra of Paris  ... 
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  • 39.
    Johann Sebastian Bach - The Essentials
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2968096 Release Date: 02/10/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Richard Egarr,  Alexandre Tharaud,  Lionel Rogg,  Sibylla Rubens  ... 
    Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe,  René Jacobs,  Konrad Junghänel,  Petra Müllejans
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin  ... 
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  • 40.
    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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  • 41.
    Classical Evergreens
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 182802 Release Date: 11/24/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Pablo de Sarasate,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Claude Debussy,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Ion Voicu,  Karl Suske,  Walter Olbertz,  Jürnjakob Timm  ... 
    Conductor:  Heinz Bongartz,  Robert Hanell,  Otmar Suitner,  Heinz Rögner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra,  Deutschland Sender Orchestra Berlin,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
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  • 42.
    The Most Beautiful Classical Melodies Vol 2 / Hahn, Fey, Rilling, Schulz, Stuttgart Bach Collegium, Et Al
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 98524 Release Date: 11/11/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Pachelbel,  Bedrich Smetana,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
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  • 43.
    Bach Beat / Brian Slawson
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 47274 Release Date: 11/04/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Brian Slawson
    Performer:  Brian Slawson
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  • 44.
    O'Reilly Street / James Galway, Tiempo Libre
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 732164 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Bolling,  Jorge Gomez,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jorge Gomez,  James Galway,  Tiempo Libre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tiempo Libre
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  • 45.
    An Hour With Bach
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 729165 Release Date: 08/26/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Giuliano Carmignola,  Angelika Kirchschlager,  Hilary Hahn,  Stefanie Haegele  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrea Marcon,  Eugene Ormandy,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Richard Kapp
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Venice Baroque Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 46.
    Greatest Works - Bach / Koch, Schreier, Sanderling, Biggs, Et Al
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 184252 Release Date: 08/12/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Herbert Collum,  Thomas Zehetmair,  Hans Pischner,  E. Power Biggs  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Zehetmair,  Kurt Sanderling,  Helmut Koch,  Peter Schreier  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Bach Soloists,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 47.
    Saturday Morning Coffee - Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Et Al / Allan Spencer Mallet Choir
    Label: Asmc   Catalog: 5637202499 Release Date: 04/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonín Dvorák,  Léo Delibes  ... 
    Performer:  Allan Spencer,  Michael Downing,  Sarah Basiletti,  Dylan Locke
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Allan Spencer Mallet Choir
    CD: $14.99
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  • 48.
    40 Most Beautiful Spring Classics - Vivaldi, Glazunov, Copland, Etc / Masur, Koopman, Et Al
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 447100 Release Date: 03/25/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Alexander Glazunov  ... 
    Performer:  Marieke Blankestijn,  Sumi Jo,  Barbara Bonney,  Viktoria Postnikova  ... 
    Conductor:  James Conlon,  Kurt Masur,  Zubin Mehta,  Hugh Wolff  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Royal Scottish National Orchestra  ... 
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  • 49.
    Bach / Canadian Brass
    Label: Opening Day   Catalog: 7346 Release Date: 01/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Christopher Dedrick
    Performer:  Bernhard Scully,  Eugene Watts,  Christopher Lee,  Charles Daellenbach  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Moody
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Canadian Brass
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  • 50.
    Clowning Around / London Brass
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 46069 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Stephen Foster,  Julius Fucik,  Jan Koetsier  ... 
    Performer:  Andrew Crowley,  Mark Bennett,  Robert Farley,  Anne McAneny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Brass
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