Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Bach Books: Main Page / Reviews & Discussions | Index by Title | Index by Author | Index by Number
General: Biographies | Essay Collections | Performance Practice | Children
Vocal: Cantatas BWV 1-224 | Motets BWV 225-231 | Latin Church BWV 232-243 | Passions & Oratorios BWV 244-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Lieder BWV 439-524
Instrumental: Organ BWV 525-771 | Keyboard BWV 772-994 | Solo Instrumental BWV 995-1013 | Chamber & Orchestral BWV 1014-1080

Bach Books

Complete Church Cantatas on CD



The Book

Complete Church Cantatas

Sheet Music


2-CD / 5,600 PP

J.S. Bach: Complete Church Cantatas

Charles Francis wrote (March 10, 2001):
Just received the following message: "From vocal solo to choral music - we just received the J.S. BACH: COMPLETE CHURCH CANTATAS, the first of their DOUBLE-CD collections! Too much printable sheet music for even the storage capacity of a CD-ROM, this one spills onto two discs - $24.95 for over 5,600 pages of browsable, printable cantatas. That's a lotta cantata."

Pieter Pannevis wrote (March 10, 2001):
(To Charles Francis) I've seen the contents, good, but where is the order form?

Benjamin Mullins wrote (March 11, 2001):
(To Pier Pannevis) Are you referring to the CD Sheet music? If so, I don't think one can order directly from them: (I think you have to go through one of their distributors.

Pieter Pannevis wrote (March 11, 2001):
(To Benjamin Mullins) Thank you Benjamin; I was indeed referring to the complete music on CD's !

Charles Francis wrote (March 11, 2001):

(To Pieter Pannevis) There's a list of on-line distributors accessible though their web site.

The Complete Bach Cantatas for $25.00!!

Thomas Braatz
wrote (March 24, 2001):
To all BCML members especially Charles, Pieter Pannevis, Aryeh: I have just received my copy (2 CDs) of the Complete Church Cantatas of J.S.Bach for $25.00 plus shipping.

Here's my short review of this item:
These CD's are being distributed in the USA by Theodore Presser, a music publishing firm that has over many years built up its distribution network. CD Sheet Music, LLC that makes these CD's does not sell directly to the public. The CD's also supply a free upgrade to Acrobat Reader 4.0 if you don't already have this handy program on your computer.

At first I had hoped that this might be from the BG, the first authoritative complete edition of Bach's works printed over a century ago. (That's the one that Johannes Brahms subscribed to and studied so assiduously.) I also thought it might be the Breitkopf & Härtel edition that had most, if not all, of these cantatas in a performing edition with parts. Just to have the full score (partitur) of each of these cantatas would also have had great value, even if outdated by modern scholarship standards. But that is not what you get here.

These are the Breitkopf & Härtel piano (and I mean PIANO!) reduction scores. I have some of these and also the Peters Edition versions that are similar. These piano parts look like Busoni worked on them. I know for a fact that Max Reger supplied many of the continuo realizations (he was really good at working in all sorts of interesting inner voices - but it is not what we have become used to hearing in the last thirty years). When you see those left-hand octaves going down where Bach's instruments did not, you know that the imagination of the transcriber is hard at work trying to supply the heavy bass lines that people expected to hear during the early and middle portions of the past century. There are quaint indications at the bottom of the page such as: 'Emphasize the melody line' Some of the piano reductions look almost impossible to play on the piano. Perhaps an organ would make the task slightly easier and possibly sound a bit more like some of the instruments that were lost in the process (you would have to guess which instruments, since nothing is indicated).

The vocal lines, whether chorus or soloists, are given separately. Sometimes both German and English are printed under the notes, other times only the German. I tried to figure out, if there was a reason for this. Perhaps the more popular ones had both languages and the others not. But at this point my computer froze, because I was moving too swiftly from one cantata to another? I had to do a complete reboot. I hope this is not a problem inherent in this CD series.

Seeing the English words next to the German, and noticing how the English is unable to accommodate what Bach had intended with the musical line, made me wince in horror. But if we believe that some Bach is better than no Bach, then perhaps these piano reduction scores with English texts can be used in English-speaking churches with organ accompaniment. I personally would not want to hear them performed that way unless, of course, a Kathleen Ferrier is singing the aria.

These scores are first and foremost for vocal artists who are learning to sing the arias and recitatives. They and their accompanists can mark up these scores (after they have been printed out) as they practice these pieces. The soloists might even be able to use their copies in performances, barring any discrepancies between modern editions and this old one. That is about the only use that seems feasible to me.

For a Bach Cantata listener, these piano reductions can not replace a full score, unless you are primarily interested in only the vocal lines. To sum all this up: You get what you pay for. If you would like to sing a Bach aria in church, print out two copies and give one to the organist and you are in business. If you want to study Bach's cantata music more deeply, you may not be satisfied with what is presented here on these 2 CD's.

Charles Francis wrote (March 24, 2001):
[To Thomas Braatz] Ugh! Thanks for this warning! Most gratefully,

Benjamin Mullins wrote (March 25, 2001):
[To Charles Francis & Thomas Braatz] Yes, thank you very much! How disapointing!!!!!!!!!!!!! Actually, I'm feeling not so much disappointed as really annoyed with the people that put this out and advertised it as "The Complete Church Cantatas." It sure would have been nice if they had bothered to somewhere include the words "piano' or "reduction". >:-(

Digital sheet music (free), musical scores

Jim Groeneveld
wrote (April 3, 2001):
I do not remember who and where, but recently several people indicated their interest in the availability of (free) digital sheet music. Well during the last months I kept several messages from several lists and newsgroups pointing to specific websites. Some of them do have sheet music (musical scores) themselves, others merely contain (many) links to even more URLs with sheet music (very good!). I tried to discriminate free and paid sites. I have had a quick look at each of the below listed sites. For the rest it is up to you. Any comments, additions (good for cooperation while maintaining this list)?

Free sheet music (.PDF files, etc.)

Paid sheet music (.SAF / .PDF files) (some free stuff) (search for sheet music)

Unknown (apparently not existing anymore)

Charles Francis wrote (April 3, 2001):
< Jim Groeneveld wrote: I do not remember who and where, but recently several people indicated their¨interest in the availability of (free) digital sheet music. >
Am I right in thinking that the PDF scores on the recent "Complete Cantatas" CD-ROM are copyright free? If so, then presumably anyone has the legal righto post one of the scores to the "files" area of the cantata list (if the moderator were to switch on this option). And similarly everyone would have the legal right to download them, print them, and copy them to others.

Just a thought...

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 3, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] Here is the statement about printing out from the CD-ROM. This refers mainly to printing out, there is nothing about 'downloading' mentioned here. Elsewhere the copyright on the software itself exists.

CD Sheet Music, LLC
c/o Theodore Presser Company
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

To whom it may concern:
The music being used by the bearer of this letter is from a product called "CD Sheet Music(tm)." The product is protected by Copyright and Trademark laws, but the files are derived from public domain music in editions that are in the public domain.

An owner of a "CD Sheet Music(tm)" compact disc has the right to print as many copies of any file as he/she wishes.

To ascertain that the music in question is from a "CD Sheet Music(tm)" compact disc you should look for the "CD Sheet Music(tm)" logo on the first page of any musical selection.

For further information, please visit our website:

The CD Sheet Music Team

Pieter Pannevis wrote (April 3, 2001):
I'm in for it

Peter Billam wrote (April 4, 2001):
[To Jim Groeneveld] A useful list; but how short memories are ... On Mar 9 I wrote:

Subject: Free Scores
As you may have noticed from my new signature, I've decided to offer, free, for a limited time, scores of my compositions and arrangements, so as to become more widely known and played in order to promote the upcoming opera, see

There are quite a few arrangements of Bach on offer ...
* Fugue in F minor for SATB recorders, BWV 689
* Three Chorale Preludes from op122 by J. Brahms arranged for recorders, with earlier settings of the same tunes by Isaac, Bach and Preatorius
* Flute Sonata BWV 1031 transposed into from Eb major into G major for Alto recorder and Keyboard
* Flute Sonata BWV 1032 transposed into C major for Alto recorder and Keyboard, 1999, with a new completion for the first movement (Vivace bars 63 to 88) composed by Peter Billam
* Ricercare a 3, from the Musikalisches Opfer for keyboard, in C minor
* Ricercare a 6, from the Musikalisches Opfer arranged two keyboards,
in C minor
* Ricercare a 6, from the Musikalisches Opfer arranged for Ssatbg recorders, in C minor
* Ricercare a 6, from the Musikalisches Opfer arranged for srings, (2 vlns, 2 vlas, 2 vlcs) in C minor
* Fuga Canonica in Epidiapente, from the Musikalisches Opfer for keyboard and melody instrument (flute, violin, or alto recorder), in C minor
* Contrapunctus 14, from the Art of Fugue, completed by D. F. Tovey, arranged for keyboard
* Contrapunctus 14, from the Art of Fugue, completed by D. F. Tovey, arranged for SATBG Recorders
* Contrapunctus 14, from the Art of Fugue, completed by D. F. Tovey, arranged for Violin, Viola and two Cellos

For more details of these see

You can check out my compositions at though these don't include anything by J.S. Bach of course.

All the scores are in PDF format, and are offered free on the condition that you do not redistribute them in electronic form. You are free to hand out as many paper copies as you wish. Don't miss out ...

Cantatas for 10 cents each

Dyfan Lewis
wrote (November 14, 2001):
I have just received the 2 CD-ROM set of Bach's complete church cantatas as PDF sheet music from CD-Sheet Music for the enormous sum of $22 including postage to Europe, that's just over 10 cents per cantata. They are for piano and voices and include the words in german and English. I have just printed out BWV 115 and the print out is excellent. Life can be wonderful!

João Ferro wrote (November 14, 2001):
[To Dyfan Lewis] Could you tell me where can I found them on the net?

Is there any other Bach music? Thanks!

Dyfan Lewis wrote (November 14, 2001):
[To João Ferro & Thomas Braatz] CD-sheetmusic are at but see copy of my correspondence below. They don't "normally" sell directly but through agents in respective countries. However they supplied me when their agent in Stockholm couldn't, see exchange below.
I am informed that, due to some problems with our contact there, you may order the Bach CD through us. Please forward your shipping address and credit card information to to order it.

If you have any problems in ordering it, please let me know,

Ellie Armsby, Webmaster, CD Sheet MusicT,
Original Message
Dyfan Lewis wrote (November 3, 2001):
Subject: Early Holiday Gift Guide from CD Sheetmusic
1 Your URL crashes my browser Expl 5x. Via google I can sometimes access a page or two but as I try too go deeper into your site it invariably crashes the browser. I will of course try other machines when I can. Happened a year or so as well with your site only.

2 I want the Bach cantatas double CD for $24.95 but Reimers in Stockholm who are your agents say that it' s not yet available. Could you mail me the name and address of another European supplier who would send to me.

3 wonderful catalogue

From: CD Sheet Music []
Sent: November 2, 2001
To: Dyfan Lewis
Subject: Early Holiday Gift Guide from CD Sheetmusic
Clue: The Holidays are comin'.
Situation: Too many gifts to give, never enough dollars.
Solution: Obvious.

We can't think of any musician who wouldn't love or couldn't use CD Sheet MusicT. (Well, there's always that 1% out there who want nothing to do with print music. For them, we recommend a $1.00 slide whistle.) For anywhere from $14.95 to $24.95, you can give a gift that truly "keeps on giving"! We now have (38) different titles available, with more coming soon (hint: French piano music, French organ music). See for the complete listing of titles and places to buy them. For not a lot of bucks, you can give your musical friends a TON of music! Keep CD Sheet MusicT in mind this holiday season. It'll solve a lot of ills, and it's a neato boffo gift, too. (Don't forget to buy one or more for yourself!)

Dyfan Lewis wrote (November 14, 2001):
[To João Ferro] At least the complete keyboard music and the organ music and maybe more stuff

A great resource / A really great reference!

Alpha H. Walker wrote (January 31, 2003):
For those of you who might not know about this, the complete vocal scores of the Bach Cantatas are available on two COMPUTER CDS published by CD sheet music. The music is in PDF format and easily viewable and printable on both PCS and Macs. The two CD set sells for around $30 US. They are available at
<"> and probably at many other places as well. I think they are a wonderful resource. Owning them gives you the right to print out as many copies as you wish. I hope to eventually own the entire library.

I feel these CDs are a really great resource. For example, last week we had a weekend of workshops and master classes here with the renowned Baroque expert, Laurette Goldberg. Our big teachers' workshop was on the topic of Scarlatti keyboard Sonatas. For the class, we used the two-volume Kirkpatrick edition (Schirmer, Volumes 1774 and 1775). However, several performers chose sonatas not included in those volumes (Kirkpatrick did choose slightly more obscure ones). So I printed out a packet of the extra sonatas for each student from the ScarlattCD Sheet Music disk. No copyright violations - nothing illegal!! The only drawback is that they are quite edited with slurs and articulation and fingerings. We all would have preferred an unedited version but heck, at least we had the notes! BTW, the volumes differ - some are edited and some are not.

Hope this is of interest to some of you. I am very pleased to have all this music at my fingertips!

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2003):
[To Alpha H. Walker] FWIW on the Scarlatti sonatas: I believe it is also legal to make photocopies from the Parma facsimiles. (That blue-and-red bound set edited by Kirkpatrick, all the sonatas.) The advantage there is seeing everything in original notation, without any added fingering or slurs or whatnot (and sometimes with "mistakes" left in...the music not regularized in the way 19th and early 20th century editors such as Longo gave us).

I think this Parma set is the basis of the in-progress edition by John Sankey, free on the internet. It's been a couple years since I downloaded some of those. He has the interesting idea of showing the notes for the two hands in two different shapes of note-heads. It's his interpretation, and I don't always agree with it, but it's interesting to look at.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2003):
< Alpha H. Walker wrote: (...) last week we had a weekend of workshops and master classes here with the renowned Baroque expert, Laurette Goldberg. Our big teachers' workshop was on the topic of Scarlatti keyboard Sonatas. >
Did Laurette show you her own editions of the WTC fugues notated in open score?

She was the first professional harpsichordist I ever met. When I was a college freshman, she and Judith Nelson and somebody else came and did a concert at our school, and I helped them pack up afterwards. A delight! That was only a few months before I made a serious switch from piano to harpsichord, and probably had something to do with it. She was also the one who showed me that thing I mentioned today about the upper octave playing before the lower one does, on her harpsichord she had brought along for the concert. That inspiring concert led to my getting a teacher and taking harpsichord seriously....

Alpha H. Walker wrote (February 1, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Yes, we all own copies of her Open Scores not only the WTC but all the Sinfonias as well. And in her newest book, "The Goldberg Variations Reader" she has many of the variations in open score. This book is really interesting, especially in view of the recent discussion on the Goldbergs. In the chapter on forerunners of the Goldbergs she makes many references to the Buxtehude 32 Partitas "La Capricciosa" and also refers to some Couperin, and Purcell. She is quite the scholar! And what a great character.We have her down every year to do workshops and classes. I have gotten to know her quite well and I am extremely fond of her.

BTW, you can purchase any of her books at this address -

Her handbook for teachers and performers of the WTC is really great!

Alpha H. Walker wrote (February 1, 2003):
< I think this Parma set is the basis of the in-progress edition by John Sankey, free on the internet. It's been a couple years since I downloaded some of those. He has the interesting idea of showing the notes for the two hands in two different shapes of note-heads. It's his interpretation, and I don't always agree with it, but it's interesting to look at.>
What program do you use to read the postscript files? I am on a Mac and I downloaded them fine but don't know how to read them.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 1, 2003):
[To Alpha H. Walker] It was whatever GNU freeware Sankey linked to on his site, plus an online conversation with him on how to use it. As I recall, I was never able to see the score on the screen but only in printouts.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 1, 2003):
[To Alpha H. Walker] Good to know! I hadn't seen or heard of her new book about the Goldbergs, but may need to pick that up. Thanks for mentioning it.

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


Back to the Top

Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 08:28