History & Mission:
The beginnings of the American Bach Society can be dated to 1972, when a group of American scholars formed a chapter of the Neue Bachgesellschaft (New Bach Society), an organization founded in Germany in 1900 to promote the study and performance of J.S. Bach's music. When Germany became a divided country after World War II, the New Bach Society sought to retain its members and, in particular, to find a means whereby members living in East Germany would be able to attend its annual meetings. By forming chapters in East and West Germany as well as the USA, the Neue Bachgesellschaft was established as an international organization, enabling it to achieve its goals.
Charter members of the American chapter included Gerhard Herz, Alfred Mendel, William H. Scheide, and Alfred Mann. Mann, as secretary, administered the business of the chapter from the offices of the oldest American Bach organization, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem (founded in 1898), where he served as director from 1970 to 1980. The Bach-Jahrbuch, along with English translations of the Gesellschafts newsletters, were distributed annually to members of the chapter. The New Bach Society, American Chapter, held its first meeting in 1976 at the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, PA, and continued to hold meetings on a triennial basis until 1988.
In 1988, under the guidance of George Buelow, the chapter incorporated as the American Bach Society, an independent, non-profit organization. Administered by a president, vice-president, and secretary-treasurer in consultation with an advisory board, a primary goal of the Society was to encourage and sponsor the publication of J.S. Bach research in English. In addition to issuing a semiannual Newsletter, from 1989 to 1993 the Society published the journal BACH in collaboration with the Riemenschneider Bach Institute. In 1994, the Society initiated Bach Perspectives, a serial publication edited by members of the Society in consultation with an editorial board, and in 2004 replaced its Newsletter with Bach Notes, a semiannual publication that includes articles, reviews, and information about members of the Society.
The creation of an endowment by William H. Scheide in 1990 enabled the Society to award, in alternate years, the Scheide Fellowship to support individual research projects, and the Scheide Prize to honor a publication of exceptional merit. In 2000, in collaboration with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the Society established a biennial Bach Vocal Competition for Young American Singers. All awards are announced at the biennial meeting of the Society, normally held in association with a college or university but also occasionally hosted by other institutions, such as the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution (2000), the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig (2006), and The Bach Choir of Bethlehem (2008).
1st Meeting: 1976 - Bethlehem, PA, USA
2nd Meeting: 1979 - Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
3rd Meeting: 1982 - University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA
4th Meeting: 1985 - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
5th Meeting: 1988 - Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
6th Meeting: 1990 - Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, OH, USA
7th Meeting: 1992 - Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
8th Meeting: 1994 - Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
9th Meeting: 1996 - University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
10th Meeting: 1998 - Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
11th Meeting: 2000 - Smithsonian Institution/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., USA
12th Meeting - April 26-28, 2002 - University of Houston/Rice University, Houston, TX, USA (J.S. Bach: Liturgy - Music - Theology)
13th Meeting: Apr 16-18, 2004 - Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA (Images Of Bach)
14th Meeting: May 11-13, 2006 - Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, Germany (Bach Crossing Borders)
15th Meeting: May 8-11, 2008 - Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, USA (Bach and the Oratorio Tradition)
16th Meeting: May 7-9, 2010 - University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA (Bach and His German Contemporaries )
17th Meeting: Sep 27-30, 2012 - Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY, USA (Bach and the Organ)
18th Meeting: May 1-4, 2014 - Kenyon College, Gambier, OH, USA (J.S. Bach and His Sons)
19th Meeting: April 7-10, 2016 - University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA (J.S. Bach and the Confessional Landscape of His Time)