Johann Sebastian Bach was a very, very busy Baroque musician. A career player who worked his way up from church organist to Kapellmeister (director of music) for Prince Leopold and Cantor (Musical Head) of the Thomasschule at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Bach was, throughout, steadily composing the music for which we know him now. Indeed, his catalogue, the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (or BWV) has 1126 entries– not including those deemed to be incomplete (captured in an appendix to the BWV) and those that have been lost (including almost 100 cantatas).
The Netherlands Bach Society has been performing the Master’s music since 1921. As they looked ahead to their looming centennial, they decided to mark it in the only way that seemed appropriate, with what they call “All of Bach“:
In September 2013 we started performing and recording all of Bach’s works. The first recordings were made available on this site on 2 May 2014, followed by a new Bach recording every Friday. Each piece of music by Bach has its own page where site visitors can choose: the recording, interviews, background information or audience reactions. You can watch and listen to every single piece in its entirety. Musicians will talk about what the music does for them. Background information is provided for each work and all the facts about the recording are compactly summarized. The public section of the site has space for reactions from listeners…
They’re pacing themselves to complete the catalogue just in time for the 2021-22 season, in which they’ll celebrate the Society’s first 100 years.
Listen, learn– and luxuriate– at All of Bach.
* Johann Sebastian Bach
As we wonder at the well-tempered, we might recall that it was on this date in 1913 that Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) premiered in Paris. Composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes by Igor Stravinsky (who’d already had success with Diaghilev on The Firebird and Petrushka), it was choreographed by Nijinsky and designed and costumed by Nicholas Roerich.
The performance famously elicited a strong reaction from its audience– an over-packed house– which reacted to the “celebration of pagan rituals” with jeers and whistles so loud that Nijinsky had to climb a chair in the wings to shout instructions to his dancers.
But even by the second performance the reaction had died down (though Puccini, who was there, averred that it was “the work of a madman. The public hissed, laughed – and applauded”). Of course today, Le Sacre du printemps sounds altogether familiar to ears raised on film scores; and Stravinsky’s ballet is widely agreed to have paved the way for “modern” (twentieth-century) music.
Dancers in the original production of The Rite of Spring