Reconstructing the Lost St. Mark Passion

According to Bach’s necrology (obituary), published four years after his death, he composed five great Passion settings. Only two of them have survived in full: the fabulous St. John and St. Matthew Passions. There exists the St. Luke Passion (BWV 246), partially in Bach’s handwriting. Beginning with Mendelssohn, every musical authority has agreed that this […]

Read More

Serenity in the Goldberg Variations

This selection is from an arrangement of the Goldberg Variations I made in 1996-1997 for the orchestra I founded in Québec, Les Violons du Roy. It was recorded at the lovely concert hall of the Domaine Forget, an old estate turned into a music academy and festival in the Charlevoix area, about a hundred kilometers […]

Read More

“Bist du bei mir,” an iconic love song

The two “Little Notebooks for Anna Magdalena Bach” provide a rare window on the domestic life of the Bach family. Although the title page for each book was written by Anna Magdalena herself, the various pieces found in the books were copied by different members of the family (Johann Sebastian, Anna Magdalena, Johann Christian, Carl Philipp Emmanuel) […]

Read More

Bach’s Genius In His Early 20’s: The Cantata “Actus tragicus”

Considering the influence of Bach’s musical hero Buxtehude, let us focus our attention on one of Bach’s very first cantatas, known as the “Actus tragicus”. While there is much speculation about this work’s purpose and date of composition, it was probably composed sometime in 1707 or 1708 during Bach’s short tenure as organist at the […]

Read More

Buxtehude’s Influence on Bach

I have always had a lot of affection for Bach’s early works, in particular his first church cantatas. We cannot understand this music without delving into the legacy of his predecessors and mentors. The hero of Bach’s youth was Dietrich Buxtehude, a Danish-born organist and composer who spent most of his career in Lübeck, a […]

Read More

Amanda Forsythe’s Favorite Bach

Written by Amanda Forsythe My 2020 schedule had been very busy, when, like the rest of the world, I suddenly found myself housebound. I have two sons, and two cats, and a new house with a long to-do list, and the forced domesticity has been a blessing. I have time! Time to organize those closets, […]

Read More