J.S. Bach

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast for Sunday, December 31st brings us music by two composers born almost 150 years apart, and both of whose music expresses profound religious faith.

J.S. Bach’s unconventional Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-Oratorium), composed in 1733 and 1734, is less known than his other major works, and it showcases the composer's innovation and resourcefulness. WRTI's Susan Lewis reports.

What Is a Fugue?

Oct 16, 2017

You don’t need to know anything about classical music to love it. But a deeper understanding of its rich history and context can add something special to your listening experience. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston takes us on this short flight of the fugue, which reached the height of its popularity in the Baroque period.

Credit: Chris Lee

Join us to hear conclusion of The Philadelphia Orchestra's chronological survey of Brahms’ magisterial four symphonies from last spring with a performance of his Symphony No. 4, on WRTI’s Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast from 1 to 3 pm on Sunday, September 24th.

J.S. Bach’s second-surviving son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), was a musical force in his own right. His fame, at least after the mid-1700s, overshadowed that of his now-legendary father and the musical footprint of this German genius reaches far beyond his native Weimar.

Credit: GDLoft

J.S. Bach wrote hundreds of sacred cantatas for voices and orchestra on liturgical texts. One season in Bach’s life reveals some of the cantatas he thought would endure through generations.

Widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music, the St. Matthew Passion is an oratorio written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra, with libretto by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). It sets chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew (in the German translation of Martin Luther) to music, with interspersed chorales and arias.

Credit: Steph Mackinnon

What kind of music would speak to Bach today? Cellist Matt Haimovitz—who has been performing works by Bach in concert halls and clubs for the last three decades—asked composers to respond to the preludes from Bach’s cello suites. WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports.

How does a lifelong interest in the choral works of J.S. Bach maintain a luster that continues to this day? World-renowned German conductor, scholar, and teacher Helmuth Rilling gives WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston some insight.


J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is a monumental oratorio that fell into obscurity for decades after Bach's death in 1750. Composer Felix Mendelssohn's production of the work in 1829 helped spark the modern Bach revival. Susan Lewis considers Bach’s life and work.

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