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Centaur Records, Inc.
21 June 2005
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and hundreds of cantatas. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.
Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.
Like Wagner has his Tristan-chord and Landini a self-titled cadence, Pachelbel has his canon in D, for which he will always be remembered. Unfortunately, this work is far from representative of his body of works: it's the only canon he ever wrote, and chamber music in general was only a marginal part of his complete works. Pachelbel was the son of wine salesman, who should have been known for his organ music today if it wasn't for his famous canon. In his own time, he was a celebrated organist, composing over 200 works for organ. Almost half of these are chorale settings, which thanks to their soberness and clarity form benchmarks of the genre. Another important part of his influence were his fugues. His Magnificat fugues are particularly noteworthy. A third genre in which Pachelbel excelled was the variation on a theme. A famous example is Hexachordum Apollinis, which is a serie of variations with keyboard arias. Finally, his vocal music is absolutely worth listening to, even though it has been in obscurity for a long time.
Johann Strauss II was an Austrian violinist and composer of many waltzes and operettes. His father, the composer Johann Strauss sr., did not want him to become a musician. As a child, he studied in secret under his father's biggest rival's guidance, Joseph Lanner. Johann Strauss jr. could really focus on a career as a composer once Johnn sr. left the family. His two brothers, Josef and Eduard, were composers two, but Johann jr. was by far the most succesful. This led to an enormous jealousy among the brothers, especially with Eduard. Yet, musically too, Johann jr. was far better equipped then his two brothers. During his lifetime, he was already known as the king of waltzes and the growing popularity of the Viennese waltz is partly due to him as he was able to lift the genre from the regular dance halls to concert stages. He was regarded as one of the most prominent composers of his time, among others by Johannes Brahms who was a personal friend of his. At the age of 73, Strauss II died of pneumonia.