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Bach's Birthday
Part 1: 2002-

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012


Year 2002


Teri Noel Towe wrote (March 21, 2002):
Today is the 317th anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach.


Year 2003

State of the List, Bach's Birthday, etc[BACH-LIST]

Santu De Silva wrote (March 20, 2003):
It's been a couple of years since I assumed responsibility for the day-to-day running of this list. One of the first few posts I made was to suggest that we observe J.S.Bach's birthday on March 21. (Note: this was the date according to the calendar in use in that part of Thuringia at the time of his birth; it can be established that it was the date the rest of the world regarded as June 21st, or something like that. But that's not really important; it's just an excuse to celebrate this most wonderful man and his accomplishments, and to allow ourselves the liberty of stepping back from the cares of our (presently tension-wrought) lives to recall a man who lived in a time that may have been less enlightened, but certainly contained far less potential for international chaos. Yes, yes, it's all relative! But...

I'm calling for any ideas for us to celebrate the date March 31 (J.S. Bach's birthday or unbirthday, it doesn't matter). Remember this is your list, and if I do not reply to these posts personally, please do not feel slighted. (I have been concerned these past few years --perhaps overly concerned-- with NOT seeming to impose my 'personality' on the list!) But if there are lots of ideas, I'll help to select one.

Some general information:

1. Traffic on the list has been very low. This is partly my own fault, since I have not tried very hard to stimulate discussions.

2. However, that is only what the list "sees." There are usually one or two daily Spams that come to me for 'approval' which I simply delete. The Spam volume is far greater than the remaining list volume! So as far as you members of the list are concerned, our "self-moderation" is working beautifully.

3. It is sad that this list (which had appropriated the most general name a Bach list could have) is one of the least active. While I don't think we have to be the most active Bach list, I feel that I should do something to make it more useful to members. (I'm sure there's a book out there called 'List Ownership For Idiots' which I could buy and profitably read!) In the meantime, if you have suggestions for revitalizing the list, I will be glad to try them.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not wallowing in misery.I'm only anxious that I shouldn't be indifferent to your needs. The list can crawl along like this, but it does seem a pity!

4. There are other Bach lists you could join. They are far more active, and controversial and at times contentious. It seems that you cannot have an active list without some level of disagreement. As I have pointed out often, there are two lists in particular that are exceptional, namely the

Bach Recordings List, and the Bach Cantatas List.

They are both hosted on, and are just the thing for those of you who are past the initial "Man, I do love Bach" stage and are ready to get into serious
discussion of those particular topic areas. I do not think we should consider our list to be in competition with them, because... -->

5. Our niche. There have been several experts on this list, some of whom have been insulted by opinionated amateurs. But I have been firm about not censoring opinions too much. I believe that our niche is to provide information and encouragement to those who are just beginning their exploration of the music of J. S. Bach. Such members are obviously too inexperienced to be much impressed with the authority of our more expert members. As a result, many of the more knowledgeable (sp?) members of our list have either departed, or are content to lurk. On the other hand, the few experts who have been content to endure our abuse, been patient with us and remained with us are truly remarkable and gracious people! I salute them. in my humble opinion, we're here to

(1) give positive feedback to those who have discovered Bach and are in an initial state of euphoria!

(2) provide information for further exploration of Bach's music,

(3) answer questions from 'newbies' who might not be knowlegeable enough to phrase their questions clearly; e.g. try to identify movements or works based on possibly rather sketchy descriptions,

etc, etc. This does not preclude us from discussing more abstruse topics, but our primary mission seems to be at a more non-academic level (at least to me).

6. The list has reached a membership of around 325, which is quite respectable. The vast majority of posts to the list comes from non-members, apparently from the far east! Unfortunately, they consist of primarily advertisements (i.e. spam) which I simply delete.

Well, that's the state of the list. Please feel free to write to me about your concerns.

Pat Maimone [Organist-Director of Musical Activities, Post Chapel, West Point, October 1975 - June 2003] wrote (March 20, 2003):
[To Santu De Silva] Dear Arch and [other 323] Listers, :-)

At West Point, NY, we celebrate Bach's Birthday annually on the 21st of March. Our concert program this year includes the following:

Three Chorale Preludes from the "Orgelbüchlein"
"Jesu, meine Freude"
"Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf"
"O Mensch, bewein dein' Sünde Gross"

Contralto aria "Bereite dich, Zion" from the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248)

Fugue in G minor for unaccompanied Violin

Prelude in D Major for Organ, BWV 532

Arias from Cantatas BWV 16 and BWV 51 with instrumental obbligato of English horn and trumpet, respectively

The concluding chorale from Cantata BWV 16, which follows the aria "Geliebter Jesu."

The audience's singing Bach's harmonization of the Passion Chorale "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded."

Five different organists will participate; three work full-time at three different chapels of the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.

We will also have birthday cake and ice cream following the concert, which is at 12 noon at the Old Cadet Chapel, Washington Road, West Point, NY.

Happy Bach's Birthday to all, whenever you choose to celebrate the 318th anniversary of the Master's natal day!

Santu De Silva wrote (March 20, 2003):
May I suggest the following for our Bach day activity!

Each list member writes in to suggest two (2) works that he/she likes, and wishes to recommend to the rest of us. In addition, they may suggest one recording of each of those.

[Yes, this is a "make a list" activity, but I personally get so much fun out of them!]

After we've waited a week to collect a few responses, everyone gets a second chance to make a further two recommendations.

extra rules:

(1) No fair suggesting ALL the Brandenburgs as a single work.Same goes for the other cycles, e.g. the french Suites, etc.

(2) when possible, provide an English equivalent for titles; e.g. Weihnachtsoratorium is perfectly clear, but some of us might not recognize it right away ...

(3) provide more than just the BWV number when possible, but by all means provide the BWV if you know it.

(4) you may annotate your submission with additional information, but that's not essential. (But I hope you do!)

P.S. The graphic mentioned in Mr Abraham's post is at:

P.P.S To those members who live in the Middle East, or who have friends there, our thoughts are with you. I fervently hope that we do not embark on a political discussion, but it seems inhuman to not recognize the existenceof what all sides recognize as a tragedy!

Karl Berry wrote (March 21, 2003):
Bach's Birthday [BACH-LIST]

< Each list member writes in to suggest two (2) works that he/she likes >
I like this idea very much. So here are my two works, FWIW:

1) Art of Fugue, Contrapunctus XIV (the unfinished one), BWV 1080,19. The recording I'd like to recommend is Glenn Gould's on piano, on CD (Sony 87759, Bach: the Art of Fugue) and even more on video (GG Collection #15: An Art of Fugue).

I know that not everyone likes Gould's ideas or, well, ``unusual'' performances, and that is, of course, totally fine and understandable. The main reason I'm recommending this anyway is not so much musical (there are many fine performances of the A.of.F) as extramusical -- Gould recorded this near the end of his too-short life, and hearing and seeing him perform the piece, abruptly breaking off where Bach's ms. stops, never fails to move me.

Oh, and for anyone who doesn't know the story behind the Art of Fugue, I recommend Christoph Wolff's books -- Bach: Essays on his life and music, and JSB: The Learned Musician. There is strong evidence to believe that this last Cp. was actually finished by Bach, but the completion was written on separate paper and lost. A tragedy, of course, and yet I'm not altogether sad about it. Having it incomplete somehow allows the music to go on.

2) My second recommendation is not so monumental :). Fugue in g minor for lute, BWV 1000. Recording: Lutz Kirchhof, JS Bach: the works for lute in original keys and tunings, Sony S2K 45858.

I believe this is an adaptation of one of the unaccompanied violin movements (it's great there too :), and I've just always found this melody irrresistible. One of those tunes that can stick in your head all day. Well, my head anyway :).

Thanks for the idea, Arch. And taking care of all the spam :).

Happy birthday JSB!

Santu De Silva wrote (March 21, 2003):
Okay: I couldn't resist. Here are two of my favorites:

(1) the opening chorus of BWV 148: Bringet dem Hern...

My first hearing of this was on a Cd featuring a boy's choir which I have forgotten, and I'm still in the process of narrowing it down. It was paired together with BWV 147 (which contains the well-known chorale Jesu joy of man's desiring). Both cantatas feature a solo trumpet.

(2) Let me suggest the Gigue from the French suite in G major. My favorite recording of this is on percussion, played by Brian Slawson. ("There you go again, Arch, with your Brian Slawson!")

Gigues are great fun, as most of us will agree, and I believe this one is a jollier gallop than most!

Michael Stitt wrote (March 21, 2003):
Celebrating by playing all lauten musik

[To Santu De Silva] I'm playing all the Bach lute suites here in Canberra Australia today, but backwards, starting from BWV 1006a to BWV 995 on my 14 course swan neck theorbo-lute.

Happy Bach's birthday to all!

Barry Murray wrote (March 21, 2003):
[To Michael Stitt] I'm celebrating Bach's birthday by listening to a cross section of his music. I have just received the Partitas by Scott Ross. It's my first opportunity to hear the Partitas. I will also listen to some Cantatas. Great to see some activity on our list. This was the first music list to which I subscribed.

Allan Balmer wrote (March 22, 2003):
Music for March 21


Having consulted [ albeit transcandentally ] with JSB to get his views on the subject, may I suggest the following:

Goldberg Variations [BWV 988]

1. Glenn Gould [ piano ] - 1955

2. Glenn Gould [ piano ] - 1981

Sony Classical Legacy SM3K87703

Robin Crag wrote (March 24, 2003):
A bit late, but hey never mind.

Rather than 2 big works, i suggest 4 little ones.

The 4 "duets" from clavieruebung 3, bwv 802-805.

They are not duets in the normal sense, they are like 2part inventions, only longer and very "contrapunctal".

I don't think they're my favourite work by Bach... but they deserve to be better known I think.

They are very beautiful, and also slightly weird!

The first one (in e minor) is the weirdest of the lot, and is somehow very sexy. It is full of strange changes of harmony. If I have got this right (which is not that certain, as im not very good:-), it is made up completely of 4 different subjects all combined in different ways. There is nothing that doesnt belong to the subjects until the last 2 bars!

The 3rd one (in G) stands out, because it is somehow gentler than the others. It is shorter, and less "contrapunctal" (i.e. in places, the right hand sings and the left hand just accompanies). There is a feeling of simple joy, but also some little darker moments.

The 2nd (in F) Has a more sophisticated type of joy, and lots of darkness too.

The 4th (in a minor) Is beautiful too, but I havent got anything very intresting to say about it, and its time to go to bed...

Pat Maimone wrote (March 24, 2003):
[To Santu De Silva] <snip>
In addition to the works on the concert program on the 21st, some other Bach favorites of mine are

(1) Organ - Fugue in E Flat Major (St. Anne) BWV 552.2 Performance: come hear me play it live! This morning it was the prelude to worship
at the Post Chapel, West Point, NY.

(2) Duet - Wir eilen mit schwachen (Cantata 78) BWV 78 How many recordings are there of this joyful duet?

(3) Harpsichord (or if one is not available, piano) Gigue from Partita No. 1 in B Flat Major

Select your own favorite recording of this one! I played it on the piano as the postlude at church today.

Santu De Silva wrote (March 26, 2003):
Yet another apology: the image I published was indeed sent by Daniel Abraham:
>>> Is it possible to forward this to the list -- a picture does sometime say a 1,000 (or more) word--but the server wil not allow it without owner permission Thanks!
and the picture contains a portrait of a man in early middle-age, surrounded by several young people. (The picture has been altered to depict them appropriately clothed for an (American) birthday celebration!

Readers may be interested to learn that this portrait that was considered for many years as depicting Bach and his sons has been tentatively identified by Terry Noel Towe as, in fact, that of Christian Ferdinand Abel, a cellist of the same period (c. 1730). All this information is in TNT's website called "The Face of Bach" which has a lot of fascinating information and conjecture. The url is:


Happy birthday, Johann Sebastian

Laszlo Szidai wrote (March 21, 2003):
Happy birthday!


Happy Birthday

Pete Blue wrote (March 21, 2003):
Today, the 21st of March, I'm overjoyed to remind myself, is the 318th anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach. A perfect time to listen to (and even try to play) the B Flat Major Partita BWV 825. One feels reborn just reveling in its infinite inventiveness, wit and charm. I'm listening at the moment to the Courante, which evokes for me Anthony Trollope's description of the surf on the Isle of Wight: "the infantile babble of baby waves."

Piotr Jaworski wrote (March 21, 2003):
[To Pete Blue] I'm sure that JSB would not mind to listen to Paul McCreesh performance of his own SMP as the part of his Birthday Celebration!

I'd very, very much like to learn his opinion about that ....

From my part - this will be the Work and the Recording I will listen again and again for the forthcoming weekend - in fact - already the second weekend with this very interesting recording.

Thomas Radleff wrote (March 21, 2003):
[To Pete Blue] It is Bachīs birthday; it should be the beginning of spring (itīs awfully cold in Central Europe), and itīs another day in the never ending history of mankindīs incredible stupidity.

Dear Pete, Piotr and others,
thank you so much for mentioning today such hopeful messages as b-minor Mass and the "baby waves" of the B-major Partita; you took me out of a mood thatīs nearer to "Ich habegenug" a.o.

Letīs hope that our list contact, and of course Bachīs music, will help us not only staying to the brighter sides of our existence, but maybe inspiring us for more creativity and positive intuition in solving severe problems of coexistence.

Do you remember John Milesī (very slick) late 70s hit?
"Music was my first love
and it will be my last.
Music of the future
and music of the past.
To live without my music
would be impossible to do,
īcause in this world of troubles
my music pulls me through."

P.S. Recently got a very quirky and dynamic piano recording of the 6 Partitas, by Risto Lauriala, done 1992 with the Finnish label Alba. Recommended.


March 21, 1685

Teri Noel Towe wrote (March 21, 2003):
Today is the 318th anniverary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach.


Year 2005

Bach's birthday

Neil Mason wrote (January 24, 2005):
My amateur choir is planning a dinner on 21st March (Bach's birthday).

I would welcome suggestions as to appropriate music for the choir to perform.

Thank you

Doug Cowling wrote (January 24, 2005):
[To Neil Mason] I would write new words a confect a pasticcio cantata from easy moevments of the "Peasant" (BWV 212) and "Coffee" (BWV 211) cantatas.


Bach's birthday [Mozart&Bach Lovers ML]

Harvey Crichton wrote (March 21, 2005):
Bach`s Date of Brith was March 21, 1685.... That makes him 320 years old!!

He died in 1750. So has been 255 years composing in heaven with God up there with Mozart and Beethoven and the others.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from down here Sebastian!!!

Barbara wrote (March 21, 2005):
[To Harvey Crichton] THankyou Harvey for that excellent website. I will enjoy browsing and learning.

wouldn't it be fantastic when if ever we reach heaven to bask in even more divine music.

I guess everytime we play or drench our spirits with BACH we are

Praising and thanking him. barbara.

Harvey Crichton wrote (March 21, 2005):
[To Brabara] I wouldn`t be suprised if Bach has already had some influence on the Angels and God`s own personal music dept. already!!!

I`m quite certain I shall be priviliged to hear it..... I can`t speak for anyone else even in this Group!! But I hope you are there to join me Babs!! : )


Barbara wrote (March 21, 2005):
[To Harvey Crichton] aaH HARVEY how magical would that be LOL.

don't you think that the most beautiful music has been written in praise of GOD?

Do you believe in Reincarnation? when these geniuses? visit earth for short period and transform our lives and passions so easily--How manytimes have they dwelt among us?

WHen we consider that so may of them were here for so short a time

Has Mozart reappeared would you think?

Musicians and artists had to suffer also and did that imbue their

creativeness with that elixir of Passion Despair Desire?

In life if we suffer are we not more creative and emotional.

I feel that to write great music must be the ultimate in life.

ART too has power to take over our lives but somehow music can transform our whole way of life and thinking, feeling, don't you agree?

Harvey you have better vocabulary than I--so I am sure can do justice to describing the effects great music has upon we mortals.

Many thanks also for the paragraphs that makes for easier reading.

That is enormous help.

One thing about composers. I wonder if any orchestras ever do full justice to the sound that the composer created.

It could be so frustrating if its not just PERFECT!!! LOL.

our friday U3A ruin poor old mozart and bach greig etc--and I pray those poor composers cannot hear us!!!!

Harvey Crichton wrote (March 21, 2005):
[To Brabara] I believe to be religious is to believe the end is not the end.

I believe if religions are true... all ways to Godhead are permissable..Hindu`s, Buddhists, Muslims.. and anyone who becomes enlightened and good..such is the universe. I.e. God does not discriminate.

I do believe however that religions should all keep to basic humanistic principles....before they veer off into logical aberations of their own which may not fit into the tolerance of all other religions and humanism.

I also think that Christianity has great beauty and great sublimity in it`s mysteries and arts and in my case it happens to be the one I`m used to so I stick with it incl it`s cultural heritgae. I know Goethe dispared of Christian Art...but I am rather fond of it and Goethe.. However I also find the beauty in the Koran. The Gita, Tibet, Egypt, and Buddhsit texts also rather wonderful as I do fairy tales of all nations which I used to collect. I have a massive collection of fairy tales from round the world from all nations. All good stuff. I appreciate a vast world culture... whether that is Buddhist stories of Monkey to whatever... Krishna is up to and the sunsets in the Koran....

I not long a time ago past a wesbite where you got one gem of wisdom each day from each major world religion. Struck me a good thing to sign up for : )

I have a varied interest in what Heaven is... and have decided through all the different interpretations from Mormons being in it but choose again to come down to serve again when the time is right to being in Heaven in Buddhist heaven you come down again to a rebirth after time in heaven pending your Karmic points...enless you reach Nirvana which is outside of rebirth and all ofcourse....MANY different types even within Christianity...Interesting topic heaven...However to answer your question....

Being full of Buddha Conciousness and enlightened ( someone tell Dex ) then I`m sure I will by pass reincarnation in the next life and be a being of full nirvana escape or sent right to heaven.Whether I come down to serve again is yet to be seen.

: )

Only when I prince comes down to sweep the streets will the will be saved. - Buddha.

That is a true saying and I`m not making that one up .

: )

Cryodex wrote (March 22, 2005):
[To Harvey Crichton] You would support religion H considering it is designed to take money out of the pockets of the poor uneducated.

Harvey Crichton wrote (March 22, 2005):
I support religion as the consequences without decent people of duty serving something higher than themselves and reaching to the ultimate goals of all they can be within is infinitely better to a Godless world under World New Age president Russell Grant.

Life is a strange thing isn`t it.... Beautiful music, sky and art`d think people would be more understanding with a world of so much beauty and wonderful things....with a God or without..... One can only guess what causes humans to fight and fall out.

It`s too small to be a brain Capt. I can barely see it through the electron microscope...... It is however sending of life force readings.. Albeit that of pond scum..... It is alive Capt.

: )

Harvey Crichton wrote (March 22, 2005):
Money has got nothing to do with God in that way really... I don`t think we can refer to indulgences and corruptions in the Catholic Church as standard practise.Most CHURCHES i KNOW PEOPLE PUT IN A IT OF MONEY TO KEEP FACILITIES GOING AND A COLLECTION... A FEW DO TITHES. ( Mormons ) and they are all loaded aren`t they.

I hardly think religion is designed to take money from people???

I don`t think God is into money...and if you are that cynical about relgion and man itself than you will have to see New Age is about signing people up to websites to egt their horoscopes done for $20 and to sell books.... Is all a consumerist nightmare ??? That is your line of reasoning..I don`t think either are motivated by either really. Certainly NOT in England.

People like to give their money to causes though and might prefer buying a book marker from my local Cathedral rathert han a similiar one from elsewhere. I believe they sell alot of bookmarkers at my Local Cathedral.I am glad they do as the building is magnifiicient and the singing in their of the servcies dailiy is magnificient!! And alfor free!!!

I have a prejudice againt non religious people where 10 years ago I would have had the prejudice with the Chrsitians for being narrow and hypocritial ..

In business.I KNOW where I am with a Christian and a female and it it is alot easir.They give their word and mean it and they don`t steal and do the dirty over you.

THAT is bonus points for me. Atheism is no longer as impressive as I found it to be, with is reductionjism in science and niholism and existentialism and Biocemical evolution...

I don`t go along with Bible either.Anyone reading Numbers recently should kind of recap that it doesn`t make sense.


But that all kind of depends...

At least UK is consistent with around 1 in 4 believers and the results on evolution..... etc...

I think GOD is beyond all of this and beyonf language and beyond all of us and beyond any dogma and any Church and any new age movement that thinks it has the right answers.



Aryeh Oron wrote (March 21, 2005):
If I am not mistaken today is the 320 birthday of a composer, whose initials appear above.

I remember reading in year 2000 that one does not need a special cause to celebrate JSB. Every day we listen to (the luckiest of us also perform) JSB's music is a good day.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank Neil Halliday for leading the cantata discussions during the first 10 weeks of 2005. Thomas Shepherd took the lead for the next 10 weeks. The leading of the discussions is covered until the week of July 9, 2006. Any member interested to lead the discussions for a cetain period of time (5/10 weeks), is invited to write to me off-list.


Greetings on J.S. Bach's 320th birthday/anniversary.... [Mizler Society]

Canadian Bucko wrote (March 21, 2005):
Of course, our hero, "old Bach" as Frederich the Great referred to him, was born on March 21st, 1985, so it's appropriate to commemorate the occasion in some way today. As for yours truly, Canadianbucko (CB), he purchased in Seoul yesterday a Naxos recording of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244). It seemed like a reasonable option, especially as this is now Holy Week. No doubt performances of the Bach Passion accounts will be proliferating in the next week, and rightly so....


Continue on Part 2

Bach’s Birthday: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

General Topics: Main Page | About the Bach Cantatas Website | Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Scores & Composition, Parodies, Reconstructions, Transcriptions | Texts, Translations, Languages | Instruments, Voices, Choirs | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings | Life of Bach, Bach & Other Composers | Mailing Lists, Members, Contributors | Various Topics


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Last update: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 05:27