The Boston Bach Birthday is back! In honor of JSB’s 336th birthday, First Lutheran Church of Boston will hold its annual celebration of Bach and his music on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Owing to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic, in-person attendance will be limited, and all the music will be livestreamed for those who can’t make it in person. Also, the customary German lunch unfortunately will be impossible to provide this year.

In-person attendees should sign up in advance for the recitals they wish to attend at

To watch the recitals live, visit

This year the BBB returns to its roots as an all-day series of organ recitals featuring local talent. At 9am Jonathan Wessler will play the “Great Eighteen” organ chorales of Bach, followed by Louise Mundinger at 10:45am, who has constructed a fascinating program on the four seasons centered on Bach’s Four Duetti, BWV 802–805. At 1pm Erica Johnson will play works of Bach and his son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, followed by more organ works of JS 3pm (Jeremy Bruns) and 4:10pm (Wesley Hall).

In addition to the organ-related festivities, the Timko Family, members of First Lutheran, will play music Bach and Petzold on the violin. Also, Noam Elkies will play a piano transcription of Bach’s first Brandenburg concerto (in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Brandenburg concerti in March of this year), as well as his own “Two-Bit Invention”, composed in honor of his first haircut since March 2020 (!).

Customarily, the BBB ends with a festival Vespers; however, in lieu of a proper Vespers service with festival choral music, this year Jonathan Wessler will play the music one might hear at a mid-seventeenth-century north German Orgelvesper (Organ Vespers) at 5:30pm, with the necessary chants sung by tenor William Farrell.

Deo volente, the Boston Bach Birthday will be back in 2022, in its full incarnation, on Saturday, March 19. Mark your calendars now! In the meantime, here’s the list of music you can hear on this year’s recitals (all music by JS Bach unless otherwise noted):

Fantasia super Komm, Heiliger Geist (canto fermo in Pedale), BWV 651
Komm, Heiliger Geist (alio modo a 2 Clav. e Pedale), BWV 652
An Wasserflüßen Babylon (a 2 Clav. e Pedale), BWV 653
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (a 2 Clav. e Pedale), BWV 654
Trio super Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend (a 2 Clav. e Pedale), BWV 655
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig (3 Versus), BWV 656
Nun danket alle Gott (a 2 Clav. e Pedale, canto fermo in Soprano), BWV 657
Von Gott will ich nicht lassen (canto fermo in Pedale), BWV 658
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (a 2 Clav. e Pedale), BWV 659
Trio super Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (a due Bassi e canto fermo), BWV 660
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (in Organo Pleno, Canto fermo in Pedale), BWV 661
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr (a 2. Clav. e Pedale, Canto fermo in Soprano), BWV 662
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr (a 2. Clav. e Pedale, Canto fermo in Tenore), BWV 663
Trio super Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr (a 2. Clav. e Pedale), BWV 664
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland (sub communione, Pedaliter), BWV 665
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland (alio modo), BWV 666
Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist (in Organo pleno con Pedale obligato), BWV 667

10:45am | LOUISE MUNDINGER, organ
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 675
Duet I in e, BWV 802
Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot, BWV 679
“Triangular” fugue, op. 43, no. 12 (2008)—Rachel Laurin
Duet II in F, BWV 803
Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV 683
Lenten (Spring), from Embertides (2014)—Hilary Tann
Duet III in G, BWV 804
Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam, BWV 685
Whit (Summer), from Embertides (2014)—Hilary Tann
Duet IV in a, BWV 805
Fantasia sopra Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 713
Tiento de falsas, from Three Tientos (2015)—Carlotta Ferrari (b. 1975)
Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott, BWV 680

12:00pm | THE TIMKO FAMILY, violin
Sonata no. 3 in C, BWV 1005—III. Largo
Suite no. 6 in D, BWV 1012—V. Gavotte I & II
Minuet in G, BWV Anh. 114—Christian Petzold

1:00pm | ERICA JOHNSON, organ
Partita no. 3 in a, BWV 827
Sonata in F, Wq 70/3, H 84—Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Prelude & fugue in G, BWV 541

2:10pm | NOAM ELKIES, piano
“Brandenburg” concerto no. 1 in F, BWV 1046—arr. Yury Tulin
“Two-bit” invention (2021)—Noam Elkies

3:00pm | JEREMY BRUNS, organ
Prelude & fugue in a, BWV 543
Pastorale in F, BWV 590
Fantasia in g, BWV 542/1
Sonata no. 6 in G, BWV 530
Fugue in g, BWV 542/2

4:10pm | WESLEY HALL, organ
Prelude & fugue in C, BWV 531
Sonata no. 5 in C, BWV 529
Fantasy & fugue in c, BWV 537
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort, BWV 1103
Wenn dich Unglück tut greifen an, BWV 1104
Praeludium in C, BWV 566a

Praeludium in g, BuxWV 148—Dieterich Buxtehude
Omnia quae fecisti nobis—Orlande de Lassus, arr. Heinrich Scheidemann
An Wasserflüßen Babylon—Johann Adam Reincken
Magnificat septimi toni—Hieronymus Praetorius
Benedicamus à 6 Voc—Samuel Scheidt


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