About Which Bach Cantata

How I ever came up with this idea.

Years ago, the Flemish classical music channel Klara broadcasted a Bach cantata every Sunday early in the evening, and more specifically a cantata Bach had written for that day. Considering that in the days of Johann Sebastian Bach every day on the Lutheran liturgical calendar was important, and that he wrote at least one cantata for every Sunday and so many other liturgical celebrations, Klara had a wide collection to choose from.

I was immediately charmed by that notion - I already loved Bach's music and most certainly his cantatas, but to hear them on the day Bach had written them for I found truly inspiring. All of a sudden the parishioners of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig came to life: sweating in their heavy clothing during summer listening to Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort, BWV 168 (first performance 29 July 1725), or shivering from the cold but with warm hearts during a performance of Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63 on Christmas Day 1723.

All good things must come to an end I guess, and at a certain point Klara stopped that broadcast on Sunday. But the notion never left my mind. When streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify became available, all of sudden it struck me: I now had all of Bach's work at my disposal, and I could create playlists that would give me exactly what I wanted: the right cantata on the right day!

And it is thanks to the very many Bach enthousiasts worldwide that I was able to create such a calendar. If you haven't looked at it yet, I can tell you that the amount of information on Bach you can find on Wikipedia is simply staggering. Each and every cantata has ample information, including the first performance date and much more. Another page gives you a complete cantata overview, with the occasions (liturgical or non-liturgical) they were written for. Without that type of information readily available, it would have been beyond my capabilities.

Next challenge: creating a liturgical calendar. This took a bit of extra research, because a liturgical calendar really is not that straightforward. It starts at Advent I, but of course the date of Easter is a big factor in how it is structured. Anyway, that too came out right. So I had now the building blocks of what I wanted. You can read here how I calculate the liturgical calendar, with a full calendar list up to 2037, and the information sources I used.

Originally I did not have the idea (or even the pretention) to share these playlists, but surely there had to be other Bach lovers out there who would appreciate this hobby project of mine. So first I created an informal mailing list, then a Facebook page, and now this website. I hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to contact me at info@whichbachcantata.be.

I look forward to your reactions!

--Michiel Carpentier, Hove, Belgium