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 Six Partitas / Schepkin
Release Date: 07/08/2016   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30062   Number of Discs: 2
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Bach: Complete Works for Organ / Alain
Release Date: 09/17/2007   Label: Erato  
Catalog: 4699028   Number of Discs: 15
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Sacred Music - Bach, Handel, Beethoven / Klemperer
Release Date: 08/20/2013   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 935402   Number of Discs: 8
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Bach: Complete Concertos
Release Date: 06/24/2016   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 95303   Number of Discs: 9
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Bach: Organ Works, Vol. 1 / Yoshida
Release Date: 06/17/2016   Label: Exton  
Catalog: 83   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Suite for Orchestra no 2 in B minor, BWV 1067

Browse 1-25 of 134 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Herbert von Karajan: Maestro for the Screen
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 737608 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Herbert von Karajan: Maestro for the Screen [Blu-ray]
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 737704 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $34.99
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  • 3.
    Bach: Orchestral Works / Seel, Barocksolisten Munchen
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 16006 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Dorothea Seel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barocksolisten Munchen
    CD: $18.99
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  • 4.
    Archiv Produktion: Analogue Stereo Recordings (1959-1981)
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 002490502 Release Date: 05/20/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Pierre Vachon,  Nicolas-Marie Dalayrac,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Stader,  Hedwig Bilgram,  Hertha Töpper,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  August Wenzinger,  Karl Ristenpart,  Robert Stehli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir,  Loewenguth String Quartet  ... 
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  • 5.
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Orchestral Suites & Chamber Music / Goebel
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 002485602 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Reinhard Goebel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua Cologne
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  • 6.
    Die Ludwig Guttler Edition / Virtuosi Saxoniae, Guttler
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300705 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Johann Adolf Hasse,  Jan Dismas Zelenka,  Alessandro Scarlatti,  Johann David Heinichen  ... 
    Performer:  Egbert Junghanns,  Dagmar Schellenberger,  Axel Köhler,  Friedrich Kircheis  ... 
    Conductor:  Ludwig Güttler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi Saxoniae,  Thüringen Academy Choir,  Vienna Concentus Vocalis  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 7.
    Bach's Greatest Hits / Royal Festival Orchestra, Bowles
    Label: Stradivari   Catalog: 6233 Release Date: 01/22/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Sarah Ainsworth,  Elizabeth Pendoff,  John Barrs
    Conductor:  William Bowles
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Festival Orchestra
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  • 8.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 9.
    Adolf Busch & Busch Quartet: The Complete Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553027 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin,  Adolf Busch,  Hermann Busch,  Karl Doktor  ... 
    Conductor:  Adolf Busch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Trio
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  • 10.
    Jean-Pierre Rampal: The Complete Erato Recordings, Vol. 3 1970-1982
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 552118 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 23
    Composer:  Johann Melchoir Molter,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Aram Khachaturian,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Pierre Barbizet,  Robert Veyron-Lacroix,  Marie-Claire Alain  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-François Paillard,  Claudio Scimone,  Jean Martinon,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Trio Pasquier,  Les Solistes De Liège
    CD: $64.49
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  • 11.
    Bach: Orchestral Suites
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95018 Release Date: 05/26/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Guido Titze,  Günter Klier,  Andreas Lorenz,  Eckart Haupt  ... 
    Conductor:  Ludwig Güttler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi Saxoniae
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  • 12.
    The Bach Recordings / Hogwood, Academy of Ancient Music
    Label: L'oiseau Lyre   Catalog: 002307502 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Christian Bach,  Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    Performer:  Christophe Rousset,  Catherine Mackintosh,  Monica Huggett,  Christopher Hirons  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Festliches Konzert
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38164 Release Date: 03/31/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Torelli,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Georg Philipp Telemann  ... 
    Performer:  Bernhard Kury,  Susanne Branny,  Andreas Lorenz,  Mathias Schmutzer
    Conductor:  Helmut Branny
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle members
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  • 14.
    Bach: Orchestral Suites / Egarr, Academy Of Ancient Music
    Label: Aam Records   Catalog: 3 Release Date: 11/18/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Richard Egarr
    Conductor:  Richard Egarr
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
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  • 15.
    James Galway - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 302633 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Arthur Smith,  Various,  Traditional,  Stan Lebowsky  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Sylvia,  Marisa Robles,  Phillip Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Galway Pops Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $199.98
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  • 16.
    Bach: Complete Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 1116165 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 142
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Remy Baudet,  Theunis Van der Zwart,  Erwin Wieringa,  Pieter-Jan Belder  ... 
    Conductor:  Pieter-Jan Belder,  Ludwig Güttler,  Thomas Zehetmair,  Kurt Masur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Amphion,  Virtuosi Saxoniae,  Amsterdam Bach Soloists  ... 
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  • 17.
    Bach: Orchestral Suites Nos. 1-4
    Label: Smekkleysa   Catalog: 17 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Martial Nardeau
    Conductor:  Reinhard Goebel
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  • 18.
    The Argo Years / Marriner, Academy of St Martin in the Fields
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002081902 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Giuseppe Torelli,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli  ... 
    Performer:  Gwynne Howell,  Philip Langridge,  Anna Reynolds,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
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  • 19.
    The Baroque Virtuoso / Jeanne Lamon, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
    Label: Tafelmusik Media   Catalog: 1026 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Francesco Geminiani,  Johann Heinrich Schmelzer,  Heinrich Ignaz Biber  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanne Lamon
    Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
    CD: $18.99
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  • 20.
    Bach, Albinoni, Fasch: Suites, Concertos, Overtures
    Label: Fuga Libera   Catalog: 717 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Friedrich Fasch
    Performer:  Dirk Vandaele,  Paul Dombrecht
    Conductor:  Paul Dombrecht
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Fondamento
    CD: $39.99
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  • 21.
    Giovanni Sgambati: The Complete Piano Works, Vol. 7
    Label: Tactus   Catalog: 841907 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giovanni Sgambati,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Francesco Caramiello,  Francesco Libetta
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  • 22.
    Karl Richter Edition - Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Orchestral Suites, Concertos, Musical Offering, Organ Recital
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 13053 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Karl Richter,  Aurèle Nicolet,  Kurt Guntner,  Siegfried Meinecke  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Solistes du Festival Bach d' Ansbach (Solistes)
    CD: $88.99
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  • 23.
    Undercover Bach - Orchestral Suites & Concertos  / Jurgen Gross, Elbipolis Baroque Orchestra
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72625 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Jurgen Gross
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elbipolis Barockorchester Hamburg
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  • 24.
    Bach Masterworks - The Original Jackets Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001929902 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hertha Töpper,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Maria Stader,  Ernst Haefliger  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Rainer Kussmaul,  Reinhard Goebel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir,  English Baroque Soloists  ... 
    CD: $117.99
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  • 25.
    Das Alte Werk - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 46438 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Herbert Tachezi,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Frans Brüggen,  Jeannette Van Wingerden  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Werner Ehrhardt,  Giovanni Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Leonhardt Consort,  Studio for Early Music  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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