Click here to download the 2022 Boston Bach Birthday Flyer!

The Boston Bach Birthday is back! First Lutheran’s fourteenth annual celebration of the birthday of the greatest of all Lutheran composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, will be on Saturday, March 19. Beginning at 8:30am and featuring concerts, organ recitals, and of course the famous German lunch (tickets $15, available at the door), the day will end with a service of Solemn Vespers at 5pm. As always, all musical events are free and open to the public, and all may come and go as able.

Traditionally the Boston Bach Birthday has showcased First Lutheran’s brilliant Baroque pipe organ, perfect for the music of Bach. For this, the 337th year since Bach’s birth, the celebration will feature organists Jonathan Wessler (8:30am) and Andrew Scanlon (1:15pm). Wessler will play the entirety of Bach’s Orgel-Büchlein, rounding out the program with other early and pedagogical works of Bach, including two preludes and fugues from the spurious Eight Short collection and the unique and exciting Pedal-Exercitium. Scanlon’s program will include a diverse array of Bach’s music, touching on nearly every genre he produced: concerto transcriptions, chorale partitas, chorale preludes, sonatas, and large-scale free works.

Lest the Boston Bach Birthday solely concern itself with Bach’s contributions to organ music, instrumentalists also make an appearance. Violist Maren Rothfritz (11am) will play three of Bach’s cello suites, transcribed for viola. And FLC’s own Aurelia, Magdalena, and Linnea Timko (10:15) will play solo and accompanied violin music.

The afternoon set will comprise two programs featuring authentic 19th-century grand pianos. Misuzu Tanaka (2:30pm) will present Bach in the Nineteneth Century, a program of music by Bach written for harpsichord and organ, arranged by 19th-century pianists and performed on an 1882 Erard. Then Andrus Madsen and April Sun (3:30pm) will present Bach’s immortal Goldberg Variations as brilliantly arranged by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger for two pianos, four hands on the Erard and an 1878 Streicher. This will be a wonderful opportunity to experience Bach’s music as it would have been played and heard in the nineteenth century, on authentic instruments from the nineteenth century, performed by musicians who are specialists in 19th-century performance practice.

The Bach Birthday will conclude with Vespers for the Third Sunday in Lent (5pm), featuring Bach’s cantata BWV 106, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit. FLC’s own Pastor James Hopkins will officiate and preach. The service will incorporate hymnody and music of the sort that would have been heard at such a service led by Bach at his churches in Leipzig.

Complete List of Music

8:30am | JONATHAN WESSLER, organ

The Orgel-Büchlein, BWV 599–644 (complete)
Prelude & fugue in C, BWV 553
Pedal-Exercitium, BWV 598
Prelude & fugue in G, BWV 557
Prelude & fugue in C, BWV 531

10:25am | THE TIMKO FAMILY, violins

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, BWV 147/10
Concerto grosso in F, op. 6, no. 9—3. Courante—Corelli
Méditation sur le 1èr prélude de S. Bach (BWV 846)—arr. Gounod
Concerto in E, BWV 1042—2. Adagio

11am | MAREN ROTHFRITZ, viola

Suite no. 6 in G, BWV 1012
Suite no. 2 in d, BWV 1008
Suite no. 5 in c, BWV 1011

12pm | GERMAN LUNCH (tickets $15)

1:15pm | ANDREW SCANLON, organ

Concerto in C, BWV 595
Partita on Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen, BWV 770 (10 partitas)
An Wasserflüssen Babylon, BWV 653
Sonata no. 4 in e, BWV 528
Prelude & fugue in b, BWV 544

2:30pm | MISUZU TANAKA, piano

Partita no. 2 in c, BWV 826
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein, BWV 734
Prelude in g, BWV 535
Prelude & fugue no. 2 in c, BWV 847u
Prelude & fugue in a (for organ), BWV 543

3:30pm | ANDRUS MADSEN & APRIL SUN, pianos

The Goldberg Variations—arr. Rheinberger


Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott—Sweelinck
Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin & Klag-Lied, BuxWV 76—Dieterich Buxtehude


Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott—Schütz
Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106
Puer nobis nascitur—Praetorius
Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin—Gesius
Fugue in d, BWV 538/2


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