Bach's birthday, Julian calendar

Saturday 21 March 2020

Bach's birthday, Julian calendar

Today 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. 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 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.

Cantatas

  • Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211
    (first performance ? 1732-1735, Leipzig period)

Extra information

The Netherlands Bach Society website (in Dutch) has more information and a performance of BWV 211:
https://www.bachvereniging.nl/nl/bwv/bwv-211/

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.