Happy 334th (un)Birthday, Bach!

Happy (un)Birthday, J.S. Bach!

Two Birthdays Are Better Than One

Celebrate Bach With the Orchestra this June at the 2019 OSL Bach Festival

OSL Bach Festival

Is Bach’s Birthday March 21st or March 31st?

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685. Or was it March 31? You will often see both dates side-by-side in biographies and encyclopedias. So then, which date is Bach’s real birthday? The simple answer is: both!

Bach’s birth was first recorded using the Julian calendar, but at the time of Bach’s death in 1750, most of Europe had started using the Gregorian calendar. First adopted by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C. for use throughout the vast Roman Empire, the Julian calendar had miscalculated the length of a year…by approximately 10 to 11 days! Most of present-day Germany switched to the Gregorian calendar in the early 18th century, but Bach’s hometown of Eisenach was still using the Julian calendar when Bach died. Once the Gregorian calendar became standard throughout most of Europe in the mid-18th century, Bach’s birthday jumped from March 21 to March 31!

Some insist that March 21 is his real birthday, while others argue that March 31 is just as accurate. But with so much extraordinary music by Bach to enjoy, why choose just one day to celebrate? Bach’s birthday can be celebrated as March 21 (Google did!) and again on March 31, or, you can really surrender to the spirit of Baroque decadence and celebrate for all ten days!

Celebrate Bach with OSL, now through June! 

At OSL, we will be celebrating Bach for the next eight weeks, leading up to our first-ever OSL Bach Festival, June 6–23, 2019! Stay tuned for exclusive content exploring the works and artists featured in the 2019 OSL Bach Festival! From three orchestra concerts at Carnegie Hall exploring Bach in the church, Bach at court, and Bach at home to the first complete performance of Paul Taylor’s celebrated Bach dances to two unique explorations of Bach’s keyboard works, the OSL Bach Festival will be a joyous opportunity to celebrate, discover, and reimagine the music of J.S. Bach.

Did You Know?

OSL’s first-ever all-J.S. Bach program took place on February 22, 1975.

The program included two works that you can also hear at the OSL Bach Festival: the famous Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello, which Paul Taylor used for his 1992 dance Junction, and Cantata No. 51 “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen,” which will be performed by soprano Lydia Teuscher with Bernard Labadie conducting OSL at the opening concert of the OSL Bach Festival on June 6, 2019!

Throughout the season, we’ll be digging into our archives to reveal more of OSL’s four-decade history of performing the music of J.S. Bach.