Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information


Welcome to the World of Recorded Bach Cantatas

The 209 existing Bach Cantatas* constitute an enormously rich musical world. They have been recorded by various groups in various styles, starting in the mid 1940's, and they are continuing to be recorded. In the centre of the recorded Bach Cantatas stand five complete cycles. Three of them are already completed and two are still on their way. The Complete cycles are by - Helmuth Rilling on Hänssler (1969-1985), Nikolaus Harnoncourt & Gustav Leonhardt on Teldec (1971-1989), and Pieter Jan Leusink on Brilliant Classics (1999-2000). The two on their way are by Ton Koopman on Erato and later Antoine Marchand (started in 1994) and Masaaki Suzuki on BIS (started in 1995). John Eliot Gardiner recorded all the sacred cantatas during his transcendental Pilgrimage in year 2000, but only about 1/5 of them were printed by Archiv. After a long delay, at the beginning of 2005 the whole project started to be released in 2-CD sets on the Soli Deo Gloria label. Karl Richter recorded 75 of the cantatas (1958-1975), Fritz Werner recorded about sixty from late 1950's to early 1970's (all of them were released by Erato in late 2004 on 2 x 10-CD box sets) and Philippe Herreweghe recorded more than 20 (starting in 1987 and still going strong). Four of the Thomaskantors in the post second world war years - Günther Ramin, Kurt Thomas, Erhard Mauersberger and Hans-Joachim Rotzsch - recorded many of the cantatas in the tradition of the famous Kantor, who served at the same Church between 1723 and 1750. The great and revolutionary conductor Hermann Scherchen recorded about dozen (1952-1964), and Helmut Winschermann about the same (1968-1972). The German label Cantate released during the 1960's more than 20 LP's of Bach Cantatas by various skilful German conductors, but most of them have never been printed in CD form. These are some of the 'Heroes' in the field of recorded Bach Cantatas. And there are many many more. So, the world of recorded Bach Cantatas is hugely rich and varied. Every conductor and his forces (orchestras, choirs, vocal and instrumental soloists) uncover new characteristics, aspects, facets and layers of this endless world.

The contents in this site are being built as an international collective project (started in late 1999), to which you are invited to join. This site is compiled from various postings about Bach Cantatas, especially recordings of them, which have been sent to the "Bach Cantatas Mailing List" (BCML) (and some from other mailing lists) and may be considered as the Web Archive for that list. A little light editing has been applied to convert e-mail into html!

For background material on the works themselves, please visit the complementary site A Listener's Guide to the Cantatas of J. S. Bach, by Simon Crouch.

* BWV List includes 215 cantatas (sacred and secular), among which 6 were not composed by J.S. Bach.


General Guidelines

The cantatas are being discussed in the Bach Cantatas Mailing List (BCML) on a weekly basis. The list of cantatas to be discussed is suggested about every 10 weeks by one of the members of the list. You can see the list of cantatas, which have already been discussed, as well as the list of the cantatas, which are planned to be discussed in the forthcoming weeks, in the Order of Discussion page. It was agreed between the members of the list that the cantatas would be discussed more or less according to their relation to the Lutheran Church Year. Cantatas that were composed for no special event, or secular cantatas, are used as 'fillers' for weeks to which there is not any dedicated cantata.

All the discussions about a certain cantata are collected in a page, more or less chronologically. The page of each cantata includes, of course, all the known complete recording of the cantata, as well as recordings of individual movements from it. You can find the list of the discussions about the cantatas, arranged according to their BWV number, in the page Cantatas (by BWV number) - Index to Recordings & Discussions.

Some discussion are dedicated to a certain performer of the cantatas (mostly conductors or singers). All those discussions are collected in special pages. Those pages include also all the known recordings of Bach Cantatas by the relevant performer. The index to these discussions can be found in the page Performers of the Cantatas - Index to Recordings & Discussions. There are also discussions about General Topics, such as OVPP (One-Voice-Per-Part), Arias in Bach Cantatas, etc. The index to these discussions is located in the page General Topics - Index to Discussions.

The cantatas are strongly connected to the other Bach's great vocal works (Passions, Masses, Oratorios, Magnificat, etc.). Some of those works, such as Christmas Oratorio or the Lutheran Masses are based on musical material originally composed for the sacred or secular cantatas. Therefore, I thought that it would be appropriate to collect all the discussions about Bach's great vocal works and to edit and arrange them in the same method I used for the discussions about the cantatas. Most of the discussions about the Bach's Other Vocal Works appeared originally in the Recordings Mailing List, but some of them were collected from similar Bach related mailing lists, in order to give fuller picture to the reader. The pages dedicated to Bach's Other Vocal Works include also all the known recordings of each work. The index to those pages appears in the page Bach's Other Vocal Works - Index to Recordings & Discussions.

The cantatas already discussed are open for future additions, since new recordings are being released, old recording from the past are being reissued, trends in the interpretations of Bach Cantatas are changing, new members are joining the list, etc. If you have any comment to add to any of the reviews of the cantatas in this site, or if you want to write about a recording of a cantata, which have not yet reviewed here, please send a message to the Bach Cantatas Mailing List according to the guidelines in the page How to contribute.

There is information about the cantatas in some other Websites. The Links section includes pages to all the relevant sites that I could find about the Bach Cantatas, Reviews of Recordings and Performers of the Cantatas.

Some contributors to the discussions are using terms and abbreviations, which are not familiar to everybody. For better understanding, easier reading, and more enjoyable listening, I also added short vocabulary of Musical & Technical Terms & Abbreviations.

If you have any ideas for improvements, corrections of mistakes, etc., do not hesitate to send me a message.


Meaning of Colours

Cantatas are coloured with Red. Index to Recordings & Discussions of Cabtatas is available either by Order of Discussion or Index by BWV Number.

Cantatas, whose BWV (Number) is marked with brackets (), cannot be performed, because most or all of their music and/or text were lost.

Non-Bach Cantatas, which are included in BWV, are coloured with green,. : Discussions of Non-Bach Cantatas.

Vocal Works of J.S. Bach, other than Cantatas, are coloured with Brown. See: Bach’s Other Vocal Works.

Non-Vocal Works of J.S. Bach are coloured with Dark Blue.

Performer Names are coloured with Light Blue.

Contributor Names are coloured with Purple.


Aryeh Oron
WebMaster of Bach Cantatas Website
WebMaster of Original Abu-Gosh Music Festival Website
RingMaster of J.S. Bach Web Ring
Moderator of Bach Cantatas Mailing List
Moderator of Bach Recordings Mailing List
Moderator of Bach Musicology Mailing List
E-Mail address:

Translation of this page into: Romanian


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Last update: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 01:54