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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: 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 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: The Six French Suites / Sergey Schepkin
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30046   Number of Discs: 2
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Kerstmis Noel Christmas Weihnachten / Netherlands Bach Society
Release Date: 11/08/2011   Label: Channel Classics  
Catalog: 6111   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Suite for Orchestra no 2: Badinerie

Browse 76-100 of 124 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    The #1 Bach Album
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 472758 Release Date: 01/14/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gottfried H. Stölzel
    Performer:  Trevor Pinnock,  Wolfgang Rübsam,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  János Starker  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock,  Karl Richter,  Barry Rose,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert,  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 77.
    The Instruments Of The Orchestra / Jeremy Siepmann
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8558040-46 Release Date: 12/03/2002   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johannes Brahms,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Idil Biret,  Tedi Papavrami,  Maria Kliegel  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Antoni Wit,  Richard Edlinger,  Takuo Yuasa  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Ulster Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $39.99
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  • 78.
    Listen, Learn & Grow - Playtime - Fun & Games
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8555812 Release Date: 08/20/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Adolphe Adam,  Johannes Brahms,  Edvard Grieg,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Balázs Szokolay,  Péter Nagy,  Gerald Garcia
    Conductor:  Ondrej Lenárd,  István Bogár,  Jerzy Maksymiuk,  Keith Brion  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Budapest Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 79.
    The #1 Classical Album
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470933 Release Date: 05/14/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Johann Strauss Sr.,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Nigel Kennedy,  Carlos Bonell  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Willi Boskovsky,  Julius Rudel,  Zubin Mehta  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Utah Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 80.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67728 Release Date: 01/08/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Douglas Major,  Andrei Gavrilov,  Christopher Parkening,  Neil Black  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Wolfgang Gönnenwein,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Robert Irving  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Empire Brass,  Consortium Musicum  ... 
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  • 81.
    Bach In The Evening
    Label: Platinum Disc   Catalog: 1462 Release Date: 11/13/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Vittorio Fanti,  Roger Steptoe,  Eberhard Kraus,  Kurt Redel  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Lamont,  Kurt Redel,  Hans Petermichl,  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Chamber Orchestra,  Munich Pro Arte Orchestra,  Munich Bach Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $3.99
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  • 82.
    Canon & Gigue - Albinoni, Bach, Pachelbel, Et Al / Rolla
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 7408392 Release Date: 10/15/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Haydn,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Christoph W. Gluck,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Dale Clevenger
    Conductor:  János Rolla
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra
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  • 83.
    James Galway - Man With The Golden Flute
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63807 Release Date: 08/07/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Albert Franz Doppler,  Frédéric Chopin,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 84.
    Listen, Learn And Grow - Playtime
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8560050 Release Date: 06/19/2001   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Gioachino Rossini,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Adolphe Adam  ... 
    Performer:  Bedrich Tylsar,  Zdenek Tylsar,  Balázs Szokolay,  Péter Nagy  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger,  Michael Halász,  Michael Dittrich,  Ondrej Lenárd  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Zagreb Festival Orchestra,  Bratislava Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 85.
    Festive Baroque - Albinoni, Corelli, Et Al / Terfel, Et Al
    Label: Dg Panorama   Catalog: 469247 Release Date: 02/27/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Jeremiah Clarke  ... 
    Performer:  Simon Preston,  Hans-Peter Westermann,  Piet Dhont,  Michael Niesemann  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock,  Reinhard Goebel,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert,  Musica Antiqua Cologne,  English Baroque Soloists  ... 
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  • 86.
    Baroque Trumpet Music Vol 2 - Neruda, Etc / Kratzer, Nuber
    Label: Fermate   Catalog: 20004 Release Date: 11/28/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Domenico Gabrielli,  Johann Friedrich Fasch,  Georg Philipp Telemann  ... 
    Performer:  Bernhard Kratzer,  Monika Nuber
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  • 87.
    Fine Arts Brass Play Baroque - Bach, Handel, Vivaldi
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 5651 Release Date: 09/12/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Richard Sandland,  Simon Hogg,  Angela Whelan,  Simon Lenton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fine Arts Brass Ensemble
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  • 88.
    Bach In Brazil / Camerata Brasil
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 556939 Release Date: 06/27/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Radamés Gnattali,  Pixinguinha,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Beto Cazes,  Marcílio Lopes,  Henrique Cazes,  Marcus Ferrer  ... 
    Conductor:  Henrique Cazes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Brasil
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  • 89.
    Essential Bach
    Label: London/Decca Double Decker   Catalog: 466465 Release Date: 06/13/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Raymond Leppard,  András Schiff,  Alicia De Larrocha,  José Luis Garcia  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard,  Raymond Agoult,  András Schiff,  Seiji Ozawa  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe  ... 
    On sale! $37.99
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  • 90.
    Visions Of Bach - Transcriptions And Arrangements
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90016 Release Date: 05/09/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Traditional
    Performer:  Ronald Pearl,  Julian Gray,  Andrew Rangell,  Jean Guillou  ... 
    Conductor:  Eduardo Mata,  Bernard Labadie
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra,  Boulder Brass,  Les Violons du Roy  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 91.
    Virtuoso / Rolf Smedvig
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80550 Release Date: 01/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Borodin,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Manuel de Falla,  Rafael Mendez  ... 
    Performer:  Eric Ruske,  Rolf Smedvig,  Richard Jensen,  Sam Pilafian  ... 
    Conductor:  Jahja Ling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Empire Brass,  Scottish Chamber Orchestra
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  • 92.
    Build Your Baby's Brain 4 - Through The Power Of Bach
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 65952 Release Date: 01/11/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gottfried H. Stölzel
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Anthony Newman,  E. Power Biggs,  Edward Carroll  ... 
    Conductor:  Milan Munclinger,  Richard Kapp,  Hartmut Haenchen,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ars Rediviva,  New York Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra,  C.P.E. Bach Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 93.
    The Organ Transcription In France / Arturo Sacchetti
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47556 Release Date: 01/11/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benedetto Marcello,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Charles Gounod,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Sacchetti
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  • 94.
    Bach And The Sea - London Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Platinum Disc   Catalog: 1260 Release Date: 01/01/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $3.99
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  • 95.
    Galway: Sixty Years - Sixty Flute Masterpieces - Highlights
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63441 Release Date: 09/14/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Malcolm Arnold,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Oundjian,  Kazuhide Isomura,  Sadao Harada,  James Galway  ... 
    Conductor:  James Galway,  Lowell Liebermann,  Eduardo Mata,  Myung-Whun Chung  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet members,  Zagreb Soloists,  London Mozart Players  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 96.
    Bach For Babies - Fun And Games For Budding Brains
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 462949 Release Date: 04/13/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gottfried H. Stölzel,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Celedonio Romero,  Maria Graf,  Irena Grafenauer  ... 
    Conductor:  Barry Rose,  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Canadian Brass
    CD: $6.99
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  • 97.
    The Greatest Classical Hits Of Bach
    Label: Platinum Disc   Catalog: 1834 Release Date: 02/23/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    CD: $3.99
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  • 98.
    Bach Hits Back, A Cappella Amadeus / Swingle Singers
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 61472 Release Date: 05/05/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gottfried H. Stölzel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
    CD: $11.99
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  • 99.
    The Best Of J. S. Bach
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8556656 Release Date: 09/29/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hae-Won Chang,  Wolfgang Rübsam,  Takako Nishizaki,  Alexander Jablokov  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Stankovsky,  Richard Edlinger,  Oliver Dohnányi,  Bohdan Warchal  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Cassovia,  Capella Istropolitana,  Budapest Strings  ... 
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  • 100.
    Bach Instrumental Highlights / Preston, Rilling, Et Al
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 98996 Release Date: 08/12/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Keiko Wakamatsu,  Junko Wakamatsu,  Thomas Indermühle,  Martha Schuster  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling,  Simon Preston
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oregon Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra,  Stuttgart Bach Collegium,  English Chamber Orchestra
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