155 Days With Bach and Me

All Bach, All the Time…Everything Johann Composed

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Bach to Bach

Complete Bach Edition

This is the holy grail of affordable, quality complete Bach editions. Produced by Brilliant Classics — known world-wide as the premiere supplier of superb classical recordings — this edition is now out of print and replaced with a new edition that features two more CDs than the edition shown above.

However, for my exploration of the complete compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach, I will be using the 155-CD edition, which is divided into six section as follows:

Volume I: Orchestral Works/Chamber Music (23 CDs)
Volume II: Keyboard Works (23 CDs)
Volume III: Cantatas I (30 CDs)
Volume IV: Cantatas II (30 CDs)
Volume V: Vocal Works (32 CDs)
Volume VI: Organ Works (17 CDs)

The man himself hardly needs an introduction. But here goes (taken from Bach’s entry on Wikipedia):

Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity. Although he did not introduce new forms, he enriched the prevailing German style with a robust contrapuntal technique, an unrivaled control of harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France.

Revered for their intellectual depth, technical command and artistic beauty, Bach’s works include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Partitas, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Mass in B minor, the St Matthew Passion, the St John Passion, the Magnificat, the Musical Offering, The Art of Fugue, the English and French Suites, the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, the Cello Suites, more than 200 surviving cantatas, and a similar number of organ works, including the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, and the Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes and Organ Mass.

Bach is one of the Big Four in Classical music — the other three being Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn — and is, easily, one of the most recognized and loved composers of all time. I’ve enjoyed his works for years. But I never studied them in depth as I intend to now.

Of particular interest to me is putting Bach in historical context. How old was he when he composed various pieces of music? What was going on in the world at the time? What was his life like? Was he married? Did he have children? How did he die? Did he have a favorite composition?

Johann Sebastian Bach lived 65 years — nearly twice as long as Amadeus Mozart. But who was he as a person? How much do we know about him aside from his compositions?

I hope to answer all those questions — and many more — during these 155 days with the Bach.

NOTE: I am not a trained Classical music critic. I know virtually nothing about music theory and I only play guitar for recreational purposes. So my observations and comments are based solely on my opinions. If something intrigues me, I’ll note it. If I don’t like something, I’ll note that, too. Those are the ground rules.

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