The New Complete Edition

333 years since the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach, the largest project of its kind in the history of recorded music is presented by Deutsche Grammophon in collaboration with Decca Classics, 30 other labels and the Leipzig Bach Archive. Bach 333 presents every known note from the great master and opens up his world – and his impact on our world – in a uniquely immersive way: through audio, visual, printed and online materials.

The New Complete Edition presents over 280 hours of music from 750 performers and 32 labels on 222 CDs and 1 DVD in a limited, individually numbered edition. Including 10 hours of new recordings and 7 world premieres.

State-of-the-art historically informed performances including the complete Cantatas from Gardiner, Suzuki, Koopman, Herreweghe, Leonhardt, Harnoncourt and others; plus other leading names in Bach performance such as Goebel, Hogwood, McCreesh, Brüggen, Pinnock, Rousset and Alessandrini.

Over 50 CDs of alternative recordings including modern piano performances from Schiff, Perahia, Hewitt, Argerich, Brendel and many more; plus 90 years of evolving traditions from Deller to Hunt Lieberson, Busch to Abbado, Mengelberg to Richter, Fischer to Gould, Schweitzer to Alain, Landowska to Růžičková, Casals to Fournier, Grumiaux to Mutter.

Includes the latest research from the Leipzig Bach Archive’s forthcoming BWV3 catalogue.

16 CDs, “Bach Interactive” and “Bach after Bach”, explore Bach’s own influences and his extraordinary impact on the world of music. Includes unique CDs devoted to jazz (Grappelli, Loussier, Evans, Getz, Peterson etc.) plus the new colours of today’s artists, composers and remixers.

Pre-Order Now
Release: 26 October 2018
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In Numbers
Hours of new recordings

222 CDs

Set in four compartments (Vocal, Keyboard, Orchestral and Instrumental)

Colour-coded for easy navigation and ordered chronologically by genre.

BWV/index book

BWV numerical listing and chronology (using new BWV3 research)

A–Z work and artist indexes

2 hardback books

1) LIFE: Lavishly illustrated biography by Dorothea Schröder, with a foreword by Sir John Eliot Gardiner; plus 13 new essays by leading Bach scholars

2) MUSIC: New essay by Christoph Wolff, 222 CDs of musical commentary by Nicholas Kenyon, many facsimiles and guide to online resources.


Bach: A Passionate Life
90-minute BBC film conceived and narrated by Sir John Eliot Gardiner

6 Tracklisting books

Includes full sung texts (German/English) and recording information


Specifications of the over 20 historical organs used in the recordings

Why 333?

2018 marks 333 years since the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach; music in Bach’s time went far beyond the superficial process of just placing pleasing harmonies on manuscript paper – it had religious significance and meaning built into its very structure. Of particular prominence in some of Bach’s music are references to the number three, reflecting the important doctrine of God’s Tri-unity which lies at the core of Bach’s Lutheran faith. So for Bach at least, 333 would have had real significance.

The symbolism of three, representing the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of the Trinity, is everywhere in the collection of organ works Clavier-Übung III (1739). There are 27 pieces in the collection (3 x 3 x 3), perhaps representing the 27 books of the New Testament. The rather incongruous inclusion of the Four Duets BWV 802–805 which were probably not originally for organ, prompts speculation that they are mainly there to increase the total piece count to 27. The work opens and closes with the Prelude and Fugue in E flat major BWV 552 with its key signature of 3 flats. This is Bach’s only use of this key in a free organ work. The Prelude has 3 strongly contrasted subjects, while the Fugue is tripartite with 27 entries (3 x 3 x 3) of the theme in total.

The nine (3 x 3) liturgical mass settings BWV 669–677 refer to the three of the Trinity in the Mass, with specific reference to Father, Son and Holy host in the corresponding texts. The “large” settings are momentous pieces of music where the first Gott Vater in Ewigkeit BWV 669 puts the chorale in the upper part. The second, Christe aller Welt Trost BWV 670 places the chorale in the middle of the texture as a tenor part. The final Kyrie, Gott Heiliger Geist BWV 671 places its chorale melody deep down in the pedal part. Here we have Trinity symbolism at work in both a literary and musico-pictorial sense.

The significance of the Trinity to Bach’s thinking is expounded in one of his least-known, shortest, apparently simple and insignificant works, the one-line Canon Trias Harmonica BWV 1072. The term “trias harmonica” (harmonic triad) was coined by Johannes Lippius in 1612 and is a set of three pitches that can be stacked vertically in thirds.

"Trias harmonica gives a beautiful image or parallel of the Holy Trinity … Could there be a clearer parallel to show us as though in a mirror the Divine Three-in-One nature than this?"
(Andreas Werckmeister, 1687)