Bach's birthday, Julian calendar

Bach Cantata Day Information:
Bach's birthday Julian calendar

Occurs every March 21st. Not a liturgical day.

Occurrences:


Music for this day

  • Amore traditore, BWV 203
    (first performance 1720?, Köthen period)
  • Ich bin in mir vergnügt, BWV 204
    (first performance 1726?, Leipzig period)
  • Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211
    (first performance ? 1732-1735, Leipzig period)
  • Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209
    (first performance 1734?, Leipzig period)


March 21st is Bach's birthday, and yet it isn't. It would be if we were still using the Julian calendar, which of course we're not anymore - we use the Gregorian calendar, which makes that March 31st is his real birthday in our time. But in Bach's time the Gregorian calendar was not yet used everywhere in Germany, as you can see on the commemorative plaque in the picture, which hangs in Bach's birthtown of Eisenach.

I've chosen several cantatas for which the occasion and first performance are unknown. First up is Amore traditore, BWV 203, the first of only two cantatas with an Italian libretto, written at some point while in Köthen.

The comes Ich bin in mir vergnügt, BWV 204, a wordly cantata written in 1726-1727. It may have been a repertory piece that he performed on multiple occasions, or at a Café Zimmermann concert.

Next is one of his very well known secular cantatas, the Coffee Cantata. Bach composed this cantata between 1732 and 1735 for performance by the Collegium Musicum in the Café Zimmermann, extolling the virtues of that magical drink but also its addictive dangers - coffee addiction was considered dangerous in the 18th century.

Finally Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209, the other 'Italian' cantata from much later, around 1734 and possibly only first performed in 1747. It may relate to Leipziger scholars who are leaving the city to return to Ansbach, but there's much speculation.


Extra information

March 21st is Bach's birthday, and yet it isn't. It would be if we were still using the Julian calendar, which of course we're not anymore - we use the Gregorian calendar, which makes that March 31st is his real birthday in our time. But in Bach's time the Gregorian calendar was not yet used everywhere in Germany, as you can see on the commemorative plaque in the picture, which hangs in Bach's birthtown of Eisenach.

I've chosen several cantatas for which the occasion and first performance are unknown. First up is Amore traditore, BWV 203, the first of only two cantatas with an Italian libretto, written at some point while in Köthen.

The comes Ich bin in mir vergnügt, BWV 204, a wordly cantata written in 1726-1727. It may have been a repertory piece that he performed on multiple occasions, or at a Café Zimmermann concert.

Next is one of his very well known secular cantatas, the Coffee Cantata. Bach composed this cantata between 1732 and 1735 for performance by the Collegium Musicum in the Café Zimmermann, extolling the virtues of that magical drink but also its addictive dangers - coffee addiction was considered dangerous in the 18th century.

Finally Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209, the other 'Italian' cantata from much later, around 1734 and possibly only first performed in 1747. It may relate to Leipziger scholars who are leaving the city to return to Ansbach, but there's much speculation.

Playlist

WBCF0321-Bach's birthday Julian calendar

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Image of the day

A wooden memorial plate above the entrance portal of the Georgenkirche in Eisenach, commemorating Bach's baptism according to the Julian calendar.

A wooden memorial plate above the entrance portal of the Georgenkirche in Eisenach, commemorating Bach's baptism according to the Julian calendar.