A Bach Chronology

Eisenach and Ohrdruf (1685-1700)


21 March  Birth of Johann Sebastian to Johann Ambrosius Bach and Maria Elisabeth Bach

23 March  Baptized at St. George Church in Eisenach


Attends German school in Eisenach


Attends Latin school in Eisenach


3 May  Burial of mother


20 and 24 February  Death and burial of father

Spring-summer  Orphaned Johann Sebastian and brother Johann Jacob join the household of their oldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach, in Ohrdruf


Attends the Lyceum in Ohrdruf

Lüneburg and Weimar (1700-1703)


15 March  Leaves Ohrdruf for Lüneburg


Choral scholar at Partikularschule at St. Michael; contact with Georg Böhm in Lüneburg and frequent visits to Johann Adam Reinken in Hamburg

April  Graduation from St. Michael School and return to Thuringia (probably Ohrdruf)

9 July →  Successful candidate for town organist at St. Jacob Church in Sangerhausen, but appointment is given to another


January through June  Musician at the court of Duke Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar

← 13 July  Examines the new organ at the New (St. Boniface) Church in Arnstadt

Arnstadt (1703-1707)

14 August  Acceptance of appointment as organist at New Church in Arnstadt


November →  Three to four month visit with Dieterich Buxtehude in Lübeck


21 February →  Disciplinary difficulties discussed with Arnstadt Consistory

29 November  Organ examination in Langewiesen


24 April  Audition for organist position at St. Blasius Church in Mühlhausen

14-22 June  Negotiations with the Mühlhausen Town Council and acceptance of appointment

29 June  Returns organ keys to Arnstadt authorities

Mühlhausen (1707-1708)

1 July  Begins as organist at St. Blasius Church in Mühlhausen

17 October  Marriage with Maria Barbara in Dornheim, near Arnstadt


4 February  Performance of BWV 71 at Mühlhausen Town Council election

February  Submits plans for St. Blasius Church organ renovation

≈ 25 February  BWV 71 published

June  Appointed organist and chamber musician to co-reigning Dukes Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar

20 June  Requests and receives dismissal from Mühlhausen

Weimar (1708-1717)

← 14 July  Moves to Weimar


4 February  Guest performance of a lost work at Mühlhausen Town Council election

March  Visit of violinist Johann Georg Piesndel in Weimar


4 February  Guest performance of a lost work at Mühlhausen Town Council election

26 October  Organ examination and dedication in Traubach, near Weimar


3 June  Salary increase


21-22  February  Performance of BWV 208 in Weissenfels in conjunction with the birthday of Duke Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels.

8 July  Duke Johann Ernst brings new musical repertoires upon return from study trip

6 November  Dedication of the new St. James Church in Weimar

28 November through 15 December  Audition and election for post as organist at Our Lady (Market) Church in Halle


← 14 January  Receives appointment for post in Halle

← 19 February  Withdraws candidacy for Halle post

2 March  Appointed concertmaster at Weimar court and receives salary increase

25 March  Palm Sunday (Annunciation) performance of BWV 182


1 August through 3 November  Official mourning period after the death of Duke Wilhelm Ernst


29 April through 2 May  Organ examination and dedication at Our Lady (Market) Church in Halle

31 July  Organ examination at St. Augustine Church in Erfurt


26 March  Good Friday guest performance of a lost Passion at the Palace Church in Gotha

5 August  Signs contract for Kapellmeister position in Cöthen

October or November  Keyboard contest with Louis Marchand in Dresden

6 November through 2 December  Detention in conjunction with dismissal from Weimar court service

16-18 December  Organ examination at St. Paul (University) Church in Leipzig

Cöthen (1717-1723)

29 December  Arrival in Cöthen


≈ 9 May through 15 July  Trip to Carlsbad with Prince Leopold

10 December  Performance of BWV 66a, Anh. 5 on Prince Leopold’s birthday


1 March →  Purchase of a harpsichord during trip to Berlin

≈ June  Failed attempt to meet Handel while in Halle


22 January  Title page for Clavier-Büchlein for son Wilhelm Friedemann

Late May through 7 July →  Trip to Carlsbad with Prince Leopold

7 July  Burial of wife Maria Barbara

Middle of November through 23 November  Recital at St. Catherine Church in Hamburg, performance of BWV 21, and candidacy for organ post at St. James Church

← 19 December  Withdraws candidacy for St. James Church


24 March  Dedication of concertos “avec plusieurs instruments” to Margrave Christian of Brandenburg

← 7 August  Guest performance in Schleiz

3 December  Marriage to Anna Magdalena Wilcke


9 August  Guest performance in Zerbst

← 21 December  Application for cantor position at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig


7 February  Audition for cantor position at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig

13 April  Request for dismissal from Cöthen is accepted while remaining nonresident Kapellmeister

Leipzig (1723-1730)

19 April  Signs provisional contract with Leipzig Town Council

5 May  Signs final contract with the Leipzig Town Council

8 May  Theological examination by professors Schmid and Deyling

15 May  First Leipzig salary payment

16 May  First performance of BWV 59 at St. Paul Church (University Church) on Pentecost

22 May  Bach family relocates to St. Thomas School in Leipzig from Cöthen

30 May  Beginning of first annual cantata cycle with performance of BWV 75 on First Sunday after Trinity

1 June  Formal installation at the St. Thomas School

2 November  Performance of BWV 194 with organ examination and dedication in Störmthal, near Leipzig


7 April  Performance of first version of St. John Passion (BWV 245) on Good Friday

11 June  Beginning of second cantata cycle with performance of BWV 20 on First Sunday after Trinity

25 June  Organ examination and dedication at Salvator Church in Gera

← 18 July  Guest performance in Cöthen with Anna Magdalena


23 February  Guest performance of BWV 249a in Weissenfels

30 March  Performance of second version of St. John Passion (BWV 245) on Good Friday

14 September  Petition concerning university service to Friedrich August I, Elector of Saxony

19-20 September  Organ recitals at St. Sophia Church in Dresden

3 November  Second petition to Friedrich August I

30 November through 15 December  Guest performances in Cöthen with Anna Magdalena

31 December  Third petition to Friedrich August I


19 April  Performance of F. N. Brauns’s St. Mark Passion, with additions by Bach, on Good Friday

1 November  Announcement of the Clavier-Übung series (BWV 825)


March through April  Renovation of St. Thomas School apartment completed

11 April  Performance of first version of St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) on Good Friday

17 October  Performance of BWV 198 at academic memorial service for Christiane Eberhardine, wife of Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, 1728

← 5 January  Guest performance in Cöthen


12 January  Performance of BWV 210a during visit of Christian of Weissenfels to Leipzig

≈ 23 February  Guest performances in Weissenfels and appointment as titular Kapellmeister of the Saxe-Weissenfels court

← 20 March  Absence from Leipzig for three weeks

20 March →  Assumes directorship of the Collegium Musicum

23-24 March  Performance of BWV 244a at funeral service of Prince Leopold in Cöthen

15 April  Performance of St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) on Good Friday

29 June  Invitation to visit Leipzig extended to Handel

20 October  Performance of BWV 229 at funeral of Johann Heinrich Ernesti, rector of St. Thomas Church

← 24 December  Auditions organists for post at St. Nicholas Church


7 April  Performance of anonymous St. Luke Passion with Bach additions (BWV 246) on Good Friday

25-27 June  Performances of BWV 190a, 120b and Anh. 4a during jubilee of the Augsburg Confession

23 August  Memorandum for a “Well-Appointed Church Music”

Leipzig (1731-1740)


23 March  Performance of St. Mark Passion (BWV 247) on Good Friday

Spring  Publication of Clavier-Übung I (BWV 825-30) ) as Opus 1

May →  Relocation to temporary quarters during renovations of the St. Thomas School building

14 September  Organ recital at St. Sophia Church in Dresden

12 November  Organ examination in Stöntzsch


4 February  Reexamination of organ in Stöntzsch

← 24 April  Bach family returns to renovated residence at St. Thomas School

5 June  Performance of BWV Anh. 18 at rededication of the St. Thomas School

21 September →  Trip to Kassel with Anna Magdalena for organ examination at St. Martin Church

28 September  Organ dedication at St. Martin Church in Kassel


27 July  Dedication of the Missa (BWV 232) to the new Elector, Friedrich August II, in Dresden

17-19 January  Performance of BWV 214a during Leipzig celebration of the coronation of Friedrich August II as King of Poland

← 13 March  Franz Benda visits Leipzig

21 November  Performance of BWV Anh. 19 during the installation of Johann August Ernesti as rector of St. Thomas School

25 Christmas  Performance of the first part of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248)


6 January  Performance of the sixth part of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248)

Spring  Publication of Clavier-Übung II

← 16 June  Organ examination at St. Mary Church in Mühlhausen


30 March  Performance of revised version of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) on Good Friday

19 November  Appointed Royal-Polish and Electoral-Saxon Court Composer

1 December  Organ recital at St. Mary Church in Dresden


4 March →  Resignation as director of the Collegium Musicum

14 May →  Learns of Johann Adolph’s Scheibe’s critique

28 September  Performance of BWV 30a in Wiederau

12 December  The Elector issues a decree concerning the dispute between Bach and Ernesti

16 December  Organ examination in Weissensee


8 January  Publication of Johann Abraham Birnbaum’s defence against Scheibe’s attack upon Bach

← 22 May  In Dresden


27 March  Cancellation of a Good Friday performance of a Passion

← 11 August  Concerts with lutenists Silvius Leopold Weiss and Johann Kropffgans of Dresden

← 7 September  Dedication of the organ at the Castle Church in Altenburg

Fall  Publication of Clavier-Übung III

2 October  Resumption of directorship of the Collegium Musicum

7-14 November  Trip to Weissenfels with Anna Magdalena


17 April  Trip to Halle

Leipzig (1741-1750)


← 5 August  Trip to Berlin

Fall  Publication of Clavier-Übung IV

← 17 November  Extended trip to Dresden


30 August  Performance of BWV 212 in Kleinzschocher


← 13 December  Organ examination at St. John Church in Leipzig


7 August  Organ examination in Zschortau, near Leipzig

24-28 September  Organ examination at St. Wenceslas Church in Naumburg


7 May  Visit with King Friedrich II of Prussia in Potsdam

8 May  Organ recital in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Potsdam

June  Contributes the Canonic Variations (BVW 769) for publication while accepting membership in the Society of Musical Science

7 July  Dedication of the Musical Offering (BWV 1079)

28 July  Start of major organ repairs at St. Thomas Church

September  Publication of the Musical Offering (BWV 1079)

November  Examination of renovated organ at St. Thomas Church


← 21 December  Audition of town musicians


2 April  Correspondence with Count Questenberg of Moravia

4 April  Performance on St. John Passion (BWV 245) on Good Friday

April  Conference with organ builder Heinrich Andreas Cuntzius

6 May  Sale of a fortepiano to Count Branitzky of Poland

mid-May  Sudden onset of critical illness


28-31 March  Eye surgery performed by Dr. John Taylor

5-8 April  Additional surgery

22 July  Suffers a stroke and receives communion

28 July  Death

31 July  Burial at St. John Cemetery

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