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: Transcriptions of Concertos by Vivaldi & Marcello / Sophie Yates
Release Date: 05/28/2013   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 796   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Secular Cantatas Vol  4 - Academic Cantatas  / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 07/08/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2001   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Lutheran Masses / Rilling
Release Date: 05/27/2008   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 7027   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Six Trio Sonatas / Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players
Release Date: 06/24/2014   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 803   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Original Works And Transcriptions By Franz Liszt / Schmidt
Release Date: 05/31/2011   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 11025   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Partita for Violin solo no 2: Chaconne

Browse 1-25 of 205 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Absolutely! / Steinmetz, Tolling, Fitzwilliam String Quartet
    Label: Divine Art   Catalog: 25112 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Uwe Steinmetz,  Henry Purcell,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Uwe Steinmetz,  Mads Tolling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fitzwilliam String Quartet
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  • 2.
    Helene Grimaud Piano Recital - Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Rachimaninov
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4891 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
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  • 3.
    J.s. Bach
    Label: Alba   Catalog: 354 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Ismo Eskelinen
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  • 4.
    Pletnev In Person
    Label: Onyx (Classical Label)   Catalog: 4110 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Mikhail Pletnev
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  • 5.
    Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Bach: Chaconne / Bin Huang
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 7656 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Bin Huang
    Conductor:  Michele Trenti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Genova Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Brahms: Paganini Variations, 16 Waltzes, Etc / Rodriguez
    Label: Elan Recordings   Catalog: 2200 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Santiago Rodriguez
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  • 7.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22326 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Niccolò Paganini,  Igor Stravinsky,  Ferdinand Ries,  Maria Theresia Paradis  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Balsam,  Nathan Milstein
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  • 8.
    Yoonie Han - Works By Granados, Haydn, Liszt, Bach-Busoni, Albeniz-Godowsky
    Label: Victor Elmaleh Collection   Catalog: 105 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Enrique Granados,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Liszt,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Yoonie Han
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  • 9.
    Chaconne /  Ida Haendel
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 3744502 Release Date: 06/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Edouard Lalo,  Johannes Brahms,  Pablo de Sarasate  ... 
    Performer:  Ida Haendel
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  • 10.
    EMI Eminence - The Original Jacket Collection [50-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 393872 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  David Nolan,  Jonathan Small,  George Malcolm,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Anton Rickenbacher,  Vernon Handley,  George Guest,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cambridge St. John's College Choir  ... 
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  • 11.
    Bach Transcriptions / Gelber, Weissenberg
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 353002 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Bruno-Leonardo Gelber,  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 12.
    Label: Pro Organo   Catalog: 7254 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Percy Whitlock,  Eugene Gigout,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Gerald Near  ... 
    Performer:  Eric Plutz
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  • 13.
    Oeuvres Pour La Main Gauche, Vol. 1: Ravel, Scriabine, Chopin, Saint-saens, Bach
    Label: Ad Vitam   Catalog: 120915 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Scriabin,  Leopold Godowsky,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Maxime Zecchini
    On sale! $23.98
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  • 14.
    Canto Oscuro / Anna Gourari
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 001762202 Release Date: 11/06/2012  
    Composer:  Alexander Siloti,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sofia Gubaidulina,  Paul Hindemith
    Performer:  Anna Gourari
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  • 15.
    Heifetz In Performance
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 199846 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
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  • 16.
    The Baroque Collection
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 73420 Release Date: 10/22/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Giovanni Palestrina  ... 
    Performer:  Xavier Darasse,  Maurice André,  Guy Touvron,  Pierre Pierlot  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Auriacombe,  Jörg Faerber,  Jacques Roussel,  Raymond Leppard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Chamber Orchestra,  Württemberg Chamber Orchestra,  Antiqua Musica  ... 
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  • 17.
    Leopold Stokowski - The Stereo Collection 1954-1975
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 1916852 Release Date: 08/21/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Gustav Mahler,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Margaret Price,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Anna Moffo,  Martina Arroyo  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra,  Norman Luboff Choir  ... 
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  • 18.
    Bach: Fantasy 1720
    Label: Zoho Music   Catalog: 201207 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Aya Yoshida
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  • 19.
    Solo Piano Works / Shura Cherkassky
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 17330 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms,  Josef Hofmann  ... 
    Performer:  Shura Cherkassky
    On sale! $33.98
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  • 20.
    Bach: Mass In B Minor; Mendelssohn, Beethoven / Blomstedt, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra & Choir [blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2059234 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Ruth Ziesak,  Anna Larsson,  Christoph Genz,  Dietrich Henschel  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  Leipzig Gewandhaus Chamber Choir
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    Jimmy - James Rhodes Live In Brighton
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 308 Release Date: 06/19/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Moritz Moszkowski,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  James Rhodes
    CD: $25.49
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  • 23.
    Bach: Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin / Arzewski
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9358 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Cecylia Arzewski
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 24.
    The Art Of Gioconda De Vito
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 9090 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Gioconda De Vito
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 25.
    Best's Bach - Organ Arrangements Of William Thomas Best / Carsten Wiebusch
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 92663 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Carsten Wiebusch
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