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Spotlight on Johann Sebastian Bach


Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, by Elias Haussmann

An ambitious online project by the Netherlands Bach Society is a good reason to shine a spotlight on the great and prolific composer Johann Sebastian Bach (not that a reason is needed!).  The NBS promises free streaming performances of Bach’s complete works, one video per week.  Sign up for the free newsletter so as not to miss anything.  Videos are archived on the site; so far there are only six, so you can easily catch up.

Two projects by Stanford music faculty also offer wonderful performances, streamed free to the world. Christopher Costanza, Lecturer and Artist in Residence (Cello, St. Lawrence String Quartet), created a website, The Cello Suites of JS Bach, where you can listen to his recordings of the cello suites along with his detailed written commentary on each movement, historical and contextual essays (written by Anna Wittstruck, Ph.D. candidate in musicology), and contextual photographs from Europe (contributed by Melanie Goldstein, master’s student in the Music, Science & Technology program). 

University Organist Dr. Robert Huw Morgan recorded the complete organ works for a series of celebratory recitals in Memorial Church in 2009-2010. See this rearlier post for details.

Thousands of Bach recordings are available in the Music Library and Archive of Recorded Sound collections, including the Hänssler Edition Bachakademie set featuring Helmuth Rilling, conductor (MCD 6556, also streamed through Naxos Music Library), and early performances such as Fritz Kreisler’s arrangement of the gavotte en rondeau from the third Partita (recorded in 1910).