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 & Beyond / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan
Release Date: 08/01/2010   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 903639   Number of Discs: 14
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All You Need Is Bach / Carpenter
Release Date: 06/03/2016   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 517826   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Goldberg Variations / Aulos Quartet
Release Date: 06/03/2016   Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)  
Catalog: 9031950   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Goldberg Variations / Gunter
Release Date: 06/10/2016   Label: Genuin Musikproduction  
Catalog: 16435   Number of Discs: 1
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The Bach Gamut Vol 1 / Virgil Fox
Release Date: 07/11/2006   Label: Reference Recordings  
Catalog: 107   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Partita for Violin solo no 2: Chaconne

Browse 1-25 of 153 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Art of the Guitar
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555261 Release Date: 05/06/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Fernando Sor,  Narciso Yepes,  Francisco Tarrega,  Miguel Llobet  ... 
    Performer:  Turibio Santos,  Pierre Laniau,  Ernesto Bitetti,  Wulfin Lieske  ... 
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  • 2.
    Sergio Fiorentino: Early Recordings (1953-1966)
    Label: Piano Classics   Catalog: 104 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Sergio Fiorentino
    CD: $48.99
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  • 3.
    The Menuhin Century: Luxury Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555050 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 91
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen,  Artur Balsam,  Marcel Gazelle  ... 
    Conductor:  Landon Ronald,  Pierre Monteux,  Jean Fournet,  Anatole Fistoulari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $250.99
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  • 4.
    The Menuhin Century: The Historic Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555052 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonín Dvorák,  Niccolň Paganini  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Gerald Moore,  George Enescu,  David Oistrakh  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Edward Elgar,  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire  ... 
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  • 5.
    Bach & Handel: Transcriptions for Piano / Cominati
    Label: Acousence Classics   Catalog: 12416 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Franz Liszt,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Roberto Cominati
    CD: $18.99
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  • 6.
    John Williams: The Complete Columbia Album Collection [58 CD + 1 DVD]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 309294 Release Date: 03/04/2016   Number of Discs: 59
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Isaac Albeniz,  Francisco Tarrega,  Joaquin Turina  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Julian Bream,  Carlos Bonell,  Brian Gascoigne  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Groves,  Daniel Barenboim,  John Williams,  Louis Frémaux  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  London Sinfonietta,  String Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    Portugheis Plays Bach & Lipatti
    Label: Itinerant Classics   Catalog: 22 Release Date: 03/04/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Dinu Lipatti
    Performer:  Stefano Greco,  Alberto Portugheis
    Conductor:  Georgina Sanchez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Joven Orquesta Leonesa
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  • 8.
    Brahms & Bach / Anna Vinnitskaya
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 231 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Anna Vinnitskaya
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  • 9.
    Per la Grazia de Bach: Bach, Marais / Martinez
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3449 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Marin Marais
    Performer:  José Louis Martinez
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  • 10.
    Chaconne: Voices of Eternity
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 29132 Release Date: 11/20/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Matthias Maute,  Anonymous,  Claudio Monteverdi,  Stefano Landi  ... 
    Conductor:  Matthias Maute
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Caprice
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  • 11.
    Andreas Staier Plays Schumann on Period Piano
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908739 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Andreas Staier,  Daniel Sepec
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  • 12.
    Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: The Complete Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 550576 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Domenico Scarlatti,  Baldassare Galuppi,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Franco Caracciolo,  Ettore Gracis,  Edmond de Stoutz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alessandro Scarlatti Orchestra,  Pomeriggi Musicali Chamber Orchestra,  Naples Scarlatti Orchestra  ... 
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  • 13.
    Jascha Heifetz: Favorite Recital Pieces & Encores
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88875051042 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Howard Ferguson,  Karen Khachaturian,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Brooks Smith
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  • 14.
    Bach Imagine / Jean Rondeau
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 622009 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jean Rondeau
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  • 15.
    Bach / Joshua Bell
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 308779 Release Date: 09/30/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Joshua Bell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 16.
    Bach To Parker / Thomas Gould
    Label: Champs Hill Records   Catalog: 78 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Graham Williams,  anna Meredith,  Nimrod Borenstein  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Gould
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  • 17.
    Bach: Transcriptions and Variations for Solo Violin / Gregory Harrington
    Label: Estile Records   Catalog: 5638256849 Release Date: 07/24/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gregory Harrington
    CD: $15.99
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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    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
    Recommendation
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  • 20.
    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
    Recommendation
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  • 21.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22326 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Niccolň Paganini,  Igor Stravinsky,  Ferdinand Ries,  Maria Theresia Paradis  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Balsam,  Nathan Milstein
    On sale! $15.98
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  • 22.
    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
    CD: $14.99
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  • 23.
    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
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 24.
    Canto Oscuro / Anna Gourari
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 001762202 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Siloti,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sofia Gubaidulina,  Paul Hindemith
    Performer:  Anna Gourari
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  • 25.
    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
    DVD: $11.99
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