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: Works for Lute Vol 2 / Goran Sollscher
Release Date: 12/04/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 413719   Number of Discs: 1
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Heart's Solace - Bach / Parrott, Taverner Consort & Players
Release Date: 04/14/1998   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 60155   Number of Discs: 1
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The Art of Bach / Anderson & Roe
Release Date: 01/13/2015   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30033   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Goldberg Variations / Labadie, Les Violons du Roy
Release Date: 04/14/2015   Label: Atma Classique  
Catalog: 2723   Number of Discs: 1
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Bach: Partita No. 4; Caprice Sur Le Depart De Son Frere Bien-aime / Remi Geniet
Release Date: 04/14/2015   Label: Mirare  
Catalog: 268   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Brandenburg Concerto no 6

 

1. --
2. Adagio ma non tanto
3. Allegro
About This Work
Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051 is the final concerto in a set of works dedicated to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg. (It may actually have been the first composed, however.) They were intended Read more as a job application, but the job did not appear. Bach's sonic imagination was seemingly limitless, and for this final concerto he chose to limit the work's instrumentation to strings and continuo, meaning that the only non-bowed instrument heard is the harpsichord. Every other concerto in the set made extensive use of contrasting timbres, balancing the strings with the winds, often in unprecedented ways. This limitation of timbre is also extended to register; there are no violins, just two violas, two violas da gamba, a cello, and the violone, which is near the cello range and is from the gamba family. The overall effect of this decision is a spirit of repose and conclusion. There are no visceral contrasts in the music, though the final Allegro is faster than the other two movements; the concerto, whenever it was actually composed, makes a splendid way to end the overall set.

Bach's writing for these instruments was unconventional for the time. In the early eighteenth century the lower members of the violin family were considered orchestral instruments with supporting roles. They were given comparatively easy parts to play, while the gamba and its relatives were regarded as chamber instruments and necessarily received more difficult lines. Bach chose to reverse the level of difficulty, giving the viola and cello the tough solo parts, while the gamba players were free to cruise along in the supporting roles. In the second-movement Adagio, they are completely silent.

The form of the three-movement work is also filled with reversals. The opening movement sounds initially like a freely composed fugal arrangement, free of the stark contrasts normally associated with concerto form. Its ritornello, normally a focused bit of recurring melody, rambles along without drawing much attention to itself, while the music that is supposed to be spun out of the ritornello is concise and sharp. Compounding the irregularities further, the second movement (lovely and languid) ends in a different key from the one it starts in. The final movement assumes the character of a fugal gigue, but reveals itself to be a set of variations based on the initial ritornello, which is a much freer demonstration than the traditional spinning-out of the initial material.

Overall, these surprises result in what in many ways is the most various and striking among the Brandenburg Concertos. Its beauty is equal to its invention.

-- John Keillor Read less

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Johann Sebastian Bach


WORKS
1. (Allegro)
2. Adagio
3. Allegro
4. Menuet - Trio - Polonaise
1. (Allegro)
2. Andante
3. Allegro assai
1. (Allegro)
2. Adagio (BWV 1019a)
3. Allegro
1. Allegro
2. Andante - 3. Presto
1. Allegro
2. Affetuoso
3. Allegro
1. --
2. Adagio ma non tanto
3. Allegro
Kyrie: Kyrie eleison (Chorus)
Kyrie: Christe eleison (Duet)
Kyrie: Kyrie eleison (Chorus)
Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo... (Chorus)
Gloria: ...et in terra pax
Gloria: Laudemus te (Aria)
Gloria: Gratias agimus tibi propter (Chorus)
Gloria: Domine Deus (Duet)
Gloria: Qui tollis peccata mundi (Chorus)
Gloria: Qui sedes ad dextram Patris (Aria)
Gloria: Quoniam tu solus sanctus (Aria)
Gloria: Cum sancto Spiritu in gloria (Chorus)
Mass in B Minor, BWV 232: Credo: Credo in unum Deum (Chorus)
Credo: Patrem omnipotentum (Chorus)
Credo: Et in unum Dominum (Duet)
Credo: Et incarnatus est (Chorus)
Credo: Crucifixus (Chorus)
Credo: Et resurrexit (Chorus)
Credo: Et in Spiritum sanctum (Aria)
Credo: Confiteor unum baptisma... (Chorus)
Credo: ...Et expecto
Sanctus: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus (Chorus)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Osanna in excelsis (Chorus)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Benedictus (Aria)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Osanna in excelsis (da capo) (Chorus)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Agnus Dei (Aria)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Dona nobis pacem (Chorus)
Aria
Variation 1 a 1 Clav.
Variation 2 a 1 Clav.
Variation 3 a 1 Clav. Canone all' Unisuono
Variation 4 a 1 Clav.
Variation 5 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav.
Variation 6 a 1 Clav. Canone all Seconda
Variation 7 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav.
Variation 8 a 2 Clav.
Variation 9 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Terza
Variation 10 a 1 Clav. Fughetta
Variation 11 a 2 Clav.
Variation 12 Canone alla Quarta
Variation 13 a 2 Clav.
Variation 14 a 2 Clav.
Variation 15 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Quinta in moto contrario. a 1 Clav. Andante
Variation 16 Ouverture a 1 Clav.
Variation 17 a 2 Clav.
Variation 18 - Canone alla Sesta a 1 Clav.
Variation 19 a 1 Clav.
Variation 20 a 2 Clav.
Variation 21 Canone alla Settima
Variation 22 Alla breve a 1 Clav.
Variation 23 a 2 Clav.
Variation 24 Canone all' Ottava a 1 Clav.
Variation 25 a 2 Clav.
Variation 26 a 2 Clav.
Variation 27 Canone alla Nona
Variation 28 a 2 Clav.
Variation 29 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav.
Quodlibet
Aria da capo
J.S. Bach: Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, BWV 565 - Toccata
J.S. Bach: Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, BWV 565 - Fugue
J.S. Bach: Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings, and Continuo in D minor, BWV 1043 - 1. Vivace
J.S. Bach: Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings, and Continuo in D minor, BWV 1043 - 2. Largo ma non tanto
J.S. Bach: Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings, and Continuo in D minor, BWV 1043 - 3. Allegro
J.S. Bach: Italian Concerto in F, BWV 971 - 1. (Allegro)
J.S. Bach: Italian Concerto in F, BWV 971 - 2. Andante
J.S. Bach: Italian Concerto in F, BWV 971 - 3. Presto
1. Prélude
2. Allemande
3. Courante
4. Sarabande
5. Menuet I-II
6. Gigue
Suites for Cello, Suite No. 3 in C major BWV 1009: Prelude
Suites for Cello, Suite No. 3 in C major BWV 1009: Allemande
Suites for Cello, Suite No. 3 in C major BWV 1009: Courante
Suites for Cello, Suite No. 3 in C major BWV 1009: Sarabande
Suites for Cello, Suite No. 3 in C major BWV 1009: Bourree I - Bourree II
Suites for Cello, Suite No. 3 in C major BWV 1009: Gigue


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