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Johann Sebastian Bach and the Bach family
Johann Sebastian Bach
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All works by Johann Sebastian Bach available from Carus

Stuttgart Bach Editions
Sacred vocal music
Instrumental music
Bach for Brass

Important Stages in Bach's Life, Major Works

Date Positions held, events, selected instrumental and vocal works
21 March 1685 Birth in Eisenach
1695 Raised by older brother Johann Christoph in Ohrdruf
1700–1702 Attended Michaelisschule in Lüneburg
1703 Musician and lackey at the Weimar court
1703–1707 Organist at the New Church in Arnstadt
Psalm cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich (For you, Lord, is my longing) BWV 150
1707–1708 Organist at Divi Blasii in Mühlhausen
17 Oct. 1707 Marriage to Maria Barbara Bach in Dornheim
Wedding quodlibet BWV 524
Easter cantata Christ lag in Todes Banden (Christ lay in the bonds of death) BWV 4
Actus tragicus. Gottes Zeit, ist die allerbeste Zeit (God's time is the very best time) BWV 106
Psalm cantata Aus der Tiefen rufe ich (Out of the depths I call) BWV 131
Wedding cantata Der Herr denket an uns (The Lord thinks of us) BWV 196
Town council inauguration cantatas for 1707 (BWV 71) and 1708 (lost)
1708–1717 Chamber musician, court organist and from 1714 concertmaster at the court of Dukes Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August von Sachsen-Weimar
Orgel-Büchlein, Concerto transcriptions
From 1713 Cantatas on texts of S.Franck, E. Neumeister, C.G. Lehms, including:
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (Weeping, Wailing, Grieving, Fearing) BWV12
Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (I had much affliction) BWV 21
Der Himmel lacht, die Erde jubiliert (The heavens laugh, the earth shouts with joy) BWV 31
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (Now come Saviour of the Gentiles) BWV 61
Christen, ätzet diesen Tag (Christians, engrave this day) BWV 63
Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (King of heaven, welcome) BWV 182
Mein Herze schwimmt in Blut (My heart swims in blood) BWV 199
Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd (The merry hunt is all that I love) (Hunt Cantata) BWV 208
From Dec. 1717 Kapellmeister of Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen
16–18 Dec. 1717 Organ test in the Paulinerkirche in Leipzig
1719 Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046–1051 for the Margrave of Brandenburg
Around 1720 Solos for Violin BWV 1001–1006 and for Cello BWV 1007–1012
1720 Death of Bach's first wife Maria Barbara
3 Dec. 1721 Marriage to Anna Magdalena Wilcke
1722 Completion of the Well-Tempered Clavier Part 1
Congratulation Cantatas for the House of Anhalt-Cöthen (mostly lost or only available in sacred adaptations)
Amore traditore (O treacherous love) BWV 203
7 Feb. 1723 Choir rehearsal in Leipzig (Estomihi Sunday) with performance of cantatas BWV 22 and 23, composed in Cöthen
April 1723 Elected to Cantor of St. Thomas in Leipzig
30 and 31 May 1723 Assumption of office as Cantor of St. Thomas and inauguration at the St. Thomas School
1st Leipzig annual cantata cycle (1st Sunday after Trinity 1723 to Trinity 1724)
2 Nov. 1723 Organ test in Störmthal with performance of the cantata Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest (O greatly longed for feast of joy) BWV 194
25 Dec. 1723 First performance of the Magnificat BWV 243a
Sept. 1725 Concerts in the Sophienkirche in Dresden
7 April 1724 First performance of the St. John Passion BWV 245
2nd Leipzig annual cycle, including 44 chorale cantatas and 9 cantatas on texts by Marianne von Ziegler
(1st Sunday after Trinity 1724 to Trinity 1725)
30 March 1725 Second version of the St. John Passion BWV 245
3rd Leipzig annual cycle, incomplete (July 1725– Feb. 1727)
11 April 1727 First performance of the St. Matthew Passion BWV 244
17 Oct. 1727 Performance of the Mourning Ode Laß Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl (Let Princess, let one more ray) BWV 198
Around 1729 Picander annual cycle of cantatas, incomplete
March 1729 Taking over of the former Telemann Collegium Musicum
7 April 1730 Performance of the St. Luke Passion BWV 246 (the work of another composer)
23 Aug. 1730 Petitioned the Leipzig Town Council (In short…plans for extensive church music)
23 March 1731 First performance of the St. Mark Passion BWV 247 (lost)
Sept. 1731 Sojourn in Dresden
Klavierübung Part I
1731–1735 Composition of individual chorale cantatas, predominantly to complete the 2nd annual cycle.
1732–1738 Numerous cantatas in homage to members of the Saxon–Polish Royal House
Feb.– July 1733 Interruption of church music due to the national mourning for the death of August the Mighty
27 July 1733 Mass in B Minor BWV presented and dedicated to Saxon Electoral Prince Friedrich August II in Dresden
25 Dec. 1734 to 5 Jan. 1735 First performance of the Christmas Oratorio in six parts
Easter mass 1735 Klavierübung Part II
Schemelli Song book (Leipzig 1736)
30 March 1736 Version of the St. Matthew Passion for double chorus
19 Nov. 1736 Appointment as composer to the court of the Saxon Prince and Polish King
Around 1736/40 Kyrie-Gloria-Masses BWV 233–236 from re-workings of old cantata movements
Around 1738/1739 Harpsichord concertos BWV 1052–1058 (arrangements and adaptations of existing works)
Probably 1739 Incomplete revision of the St. John Passion
1739 Klavierübung Part III
Sept. 1739 Visit to Altenburg
Around 1740 Beginning of work on The Art of Fugue BWV 1080


Klavierübung Part IV (Goldberg Variations)
Aug. 1741 Trip to Berlin
30 Aug. 1742 Performance of the Peasant cantata BWV 212 in Kleinzschocher near Leipzig
13 Dec. 1743 Organ test in the Johanneskirche
1744 Assembly of The Well-Tempered Clavier Part II
26 Sept. 1746 Organ test in Naumburg
Around 1746/47 Arrangement of G. B. Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater BWV 1083
May 1747 Trips to Berlin and Potsdam, audience with Friedrich the Great
Musical Offering BWV 1079, dedicated to Friedrich II
June 1747 Accepted to the "Korrespondierende Sozietät der musikalischen Wissenschaften" (Society of Musical Sciences) in Leipzig with the canonic variations on "Vom Himmel hoch"
Around 1748/50 Completion of the B Minor Mass BWV 232
1749 Last revision of the St. John Passion
1750 Preparation for the printing of The Art of Fugue BWV 1080
March and May 1750 Eye operations
28 July 1750 Death in Leipzig

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