J.S. Bach

"Study Bach. There you will find everything." That's what Johannes Brahms said about the King of Baroque. Johann Sebastian Bach is the composer, above all others, whom other composers point to as The One.

What Is a Fugue?

Jan 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.

The Unusual Christmas Oratorio of J.S. Bach

Dec 21, 2016

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.

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.


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.

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.

J.S. Bach was born more than three centuries ago, yet contemporary musicians continue to mine riches from his music. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, award-winning violinist Gil Shaham finds Bach connections in everything he plays.

The St. Matthew Passion is revered today as one of the great masterpieces of the choral repertoire. But along with much of Bach’s vast output, it sank into obscurity in the decades following his death in 1750.

At the age of 13, Felix Mendelssohn was given a copy of Bach’s Passion as a Christmas gift. He fell in love with it. Seven years later in 1829, he presented a performance of the work in his own arrangement, changing some orchestration and making cuts to several sections.

Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts one of the supreme monuments in Western music, and the work that initiated the great rediscovery of Bach’s music when the 20-year-old Felix Mendelssohn conducted it in Berlin in 1829 – the St. Matthew Passion.

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