Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) came from an already well-known family of musicians, a fact easily forgotten given his titanic talent and extensive output. It wasn't enough for Johann Sebastian to master the art of counterpoint (how two or more notes interact); he found humorous, creative and innovative ways to create music in an era gridlocked with compositional rules and expectations. From the seemingly simple Inventions and Sinfonias to the size and depth of St. Matthew's Passion, Johann Sebastian's music still baffles, intrigues and impresses composers, performers and listeners. We are collecting music, coverage and news about Bach from around Classical MPR and our affiliated programs. Have a look (and listen) and enjoy.

Bach's Life and Work

Stories about Bach, and the music he created.

  • South Dakota ChoraleBach singing at its best!
    Bach requires much from his singers in his handful of motets. The South Dakota Chorale, led by Brian Schmidt, is a first-rate ensemble that is more than up to the challenge.April 2, 2015
  • Marmee Birthday CakeBach's Birthday Bash proves progressive party
    As Michael Barone makes clear, one does not skimp on J.S. Bach's 330th birthday. Barone details a series of performances in honor of the great composer, held at various venues throughout the city of Minneapolis on Saturday, March 21. The first hour of festivities will be broadcast live on Classical MPR.March 20, 2015
  • simone dinnerstein bach inventions and sinfoniasNew Classical Tracks: Thirty Little Masterpieces
    Bach's "two- and three-part inventions" are familiar to every piano student. On a new disc, they're performed by one of the leading young pianists of today. Simone Dinnerstein's new album is on this week's New Classical Tracks.July 2, 2014
  • Andrew Altenbach talks Bachs
    Sometimes, the lives of composers read like headlines ripped from the tabloids. Andrew Altenbach, artistic director of the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, talks to Alison Young about C.P.E. Bach's "daddy issues" ahead of a Bach Ensemble concert on Thursday.June 24, 2014
  • A Bach's Birthday Summit
    Friday, March 21, is the birthday of J.S. Bach. Last Saturday, a number of musicians celebrated a progressive birthday party in a number of venues along St. Paul's Summit Avenue. Relive the experience in audio and pictures.March 21, 2014
  • Before Bach's Birthday Bash
    For Michael Barone, one day is not enough to celebrate the birthday of J.S. Bach. It's why he began the tradition of Before Bach's Birthday Bash. Read about what's in store for this year's festivities.March 14, 2014
  • Learning to Listen - Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven
    John Eliot Gardiner talks about his new book, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, on Learning to Listen.November 4, 2013
  • Learning to Listen: Bach's Brandenburg Concertos 4, 5 and 6
    This week on Learning to Listen, we focus on Brandenburg Concertos 4, 5 and 6 by Johann Sebastian Bach. All of the Brandenburg Concertos are in major (i.e. happy) keys.October 7, 2013
  • Learning to Listen: Brandenburg Concertos
    Today, we'll hear three of the six Brandenburg Concertos, written by Johann Sebastian Bach. The Brandenburg Concertos are excellent examples of music from the Baroque Era.September 30, 2013
  • Live Broadcast: National Lutheran Choir performs Bach's Mass in B Minor
    Tune in on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. to hear the National Lutheran Choir perform Bach's Mass in B Minor live from Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.March 21, 2013

Complete Works of Bach

Complete Works of Bach

Bach in the news

Coverage of Bach from the Classical Notes blog.

  • Bach by the numbers
    Was J.S. Bach fascinated by the number 14? Apparently the composer's delight at numbers and numerical puzzles was substantial enough to be the premise for a special exhibition at the Bach Museum in Eisenach, Germany.
  • Was Bach a teenage bully?
    New research indicates that one of the greatest composers of all time may have a life story that's been cleaned-up to preserve the image created by his pristine works.
  • Sellar Stages Bach
    Peter Sellars stages Bach's St. Matthew Passion in a new DVD from the Berlin Philharmonic
  • How I Like My Bach
    I was preparing for an interview and, naturally, I got pulled into that Internet vortex - listening to recordings and watching videos of Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suites. There are dozens of videos. Dozens and dozens and dozens.
  • Bach Visualization
    This is a fascinating visualization of the Prelude to Bach's Cello Suites. I like how it shows the chordal and melodic structure in a whole different way; the musical line forming the broken chords and flowing into the melody is...
  • The SPCO: Bach - The Art of the Fugue
    This Thursday through Saturday (Oct. 13-15), The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is exploring selections from J.S. Bach's The Art of the Fugue.
  • Bach You Very Much, Mr. Sharp Nelson
    You like the Bach 'Cello Suites? How about clones and lighsabers and awesome camera angles? How about all of them together?
  • Walk or roll for Bach
    "Who's the greatest classical composer of them all?" asks Rob Hubbard of the Pioneer Press. If you agree that it's the guy celebrating a birthday Saturday with 324 candles on his cake, then put your walking shoes on (or maybe...
  • Many Faces of Bach, Part 2
    What did J. S. Bach's own face really look like? Read about a new reconstruction here....
  • Oops, Bach did it again.
    Fugue (fyoog) n. 1. Music An imitative polyphonic composition in which a theme or themes are stated successively in all of the voices of the contrapuntal structure. 2. Psychiatry A pathological amnesiac condition during which one is apparently conscious of...
  • Baroque 'n' roll
    You may have read the news that former members of the band Procol Harum are fighting over authorship of the organ melody in their 1967 hit, "A Whiter Shade of Pale." You have to wonder about the grounds for the...

Bach and You

We're collecting stories about Johann's life or music on listeners of Classical MPR. What's your Bach story?

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