Acclaimed biography by Dorothea Schröder published in English for the first time
New essays by leading scholars of the Leipzig Bach Archive
A new essay on the current state of Bach scholarship by Christoph Wolff
Track-by-track commentary on all 222 CDs by Nicholas Kenyon
Complete BWV work index including the Leipzig Bach Archiv's latest research; A-Z work and artist listings; cantatas by liturgical year; all index with CD references
Bach: A Passionate Live, written and narrated by Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Sacred Cantatas I
Early cantatas and the first Leipzig cycle (1724-1725)
Sacred Cantatas II
Second Leipzig cycle (1724-1725)
Sacred Cantatas III
Leipzig years 3-5 and late cantatas
Complete 4-part chorales
Magnificat, Motets, Masses, Passions, Oratorios
22 secular cantatas, Quodlibet
Famous vocal and choral performances 1931-present
2-CD introduction - Free organ works - Chorale-based organ works
Presented chronologically, with introductory CDs on harpsichord and piano
12 CDs of piano versions of key works
Famous piano, harpsichord, clavichrod and organ performances
Complete works presented alongside alternative versions/reconstructions
Famous orchestral performances 1935-present
Solo violin, cello, flute and "lute" works, duo and trio sonatas
Canons & Counterpoint
Musical Offering, The Art of Fugue, late canons
Famous instrumental performances 1938-present
Complete Anna Magdalena and W.F. Bach Books, Schemelli Lieder
Bach's influences and interactions from Pachelbel to Pergolesi
Bach after Bach
Bach as inspiration from Mozart to Pärt, Liszt to Loussier
The largest composer project
in recording history
26 October 2018
32 Labels, 222CDs, 750+ Performers & Ensembles, 280 Hours of Music, 10 Hours of New Recordings including 7 World Premieres, 2 luxury hardback books, advance presentation of BWV3 Catalogue, plus digital product suite.
Deutsche Grammophon and Decca proudly announce the release of the largest and most complete box set ever devoted to the work of a single composer. The 222 CD Complete Edition is the result of two years of curation and scholarship and has been developed with the cooperation of 32 labels and a team of scholars at the Leipzig Bach Archive, with an introductory DVD documentary and written welcome by its President Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and with editorial consultant Nicholas Kenyon presiding over work-by-work musical commentary.
The set marks 333 years since the birth of J.S. Bach. We can confidently say that certain numbers and numerical proportions had a special structural and sometimes religious significance for Bach. References to the number three reflect the important doctrine of God’s Tri-unity which lies at the core of Bach’s Lutheran faith. Nicholas Kenyon says: “333 is important, because one of the key Bach numbers is 3 representing the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The symbolism of three, and three times three, is everywhere in the collection of organ works Clavier-Übung III (1739). We often sense these underlying features in Bach’s work; while I don’t think he ever let them dominate his thinking, it was clearly a way in which he was expressing the harmony of the universe as he saw it.” The set is thus known as ‘Bach 333’.
Across 16,926 minutes of music over 5,533 tracks, 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 set, the largest ever devoted to a single composer and exceeding in size even the massively-successful ‘Mozart 225’ Edition of two years ago, presents Bach’s complete oeuvre from 750 hand-picked performers and ensembles across 32 labels including Sony, Warner, BIS, SDG, Denon and Harmonia Mundi.
Two handsomely illustrated hardback books are included. The first book, entitled LIFE, presents a lavishly illustrated biography by leading Bach scholar Dorothea Schröder plus thirteen essays of the latest thinking from leading scholars from the Leipzig Bach Archive. The second book, MUSIC presents a new essay by doyen of Bach scholarship Christoph Wolff followed by work-by-work commentary by Nicholas Kenyon (author of The Faber Pocket Guide to Bach). Also included are complete sung texts and English translations, facsimile reproductions of key scores and a guide to further online resources including the Bach Archive’s ground-breaking Bach Digital initiative. Meanwhile, the set also conforms to the very latest research from the Leipzig Bach Archive and their new BWV3 catalogue due to be published in 2019-20. The life of Bach is further explored on DVD in Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s 90-minute BBC film ‘Bach: A Passionate Life’. The colour-coded layout of Bach 333 presents the works chronologically within one of four genres – Vocal Music, Keyboard Music, Orchestral Music and Instrumental Music. The consumer can navigate with ease across the enormous and rich array of content.
Best-in-class historically-informed performances include a handpicked set of the complete Cantatas led by outstanding contributions from Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Masaaki Suzuki, plus strong showings from Ton Koopman, Philippe Herreweghe, Gustav Leonhardt, Nicolaus Harnoncourt, Sigiswald Kuijken and more; other leading names featured across the Edition include Reinhard Goebel, Christopher Hogwood, Paul McCreesh, Franz Brüggen, Trevor Pinnock, Christophe Coin, Christophe Rousset and Rinaldo Alessandrini.
The set also presents over 50 CDs of alternative recordings including modern piano performances of all the key works from András Schiff, Murray Perahia, Angela Hewitt, Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel and many more. 90 years of evolving Bach performance traditions in vocal and instrumental practice can be heard in legendary performances from a plethora of artists from Alfred Deller to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Adolf Busch to Claudio Abbado, Willem Mengelberg to Karl Richter, Edwin Fischer to Glenn Gould, Albert Schweitzer to Marie-Claire Alain, Wanda Landowska to Zuzana Růžičková, Pablo Casals to Pierre Fournier, Arthur Grumiaux to Anne-Sophie Mutter.
Highlights among 10 hours of entirely new recordings include a new recording of the Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin by period specialist Giuliano Carmignola, as well as 7 premieres of works never recorded before - 6 alternative Chorale versions and Beethoven’s only completed arrangement of a Bach work.
16 CDs entitled “Bach Interactive” and “Bach after Bach” form the basis of a major offering to enrich our experience and understanding of Bach’s unique impact on composers and composition ever since; from Mozart and Beethoven to today’s masters such as Arvo Pärt and György Kurtág. Included are albums devoted to Bach à la Jazz (Stéphane Grappelli, Stan Getz, Jacques Loussier, Bill Evans and more) and New Colours of Bach - remixers, composers and artists of our own time.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, President, Leipzig Bach Archive: “This superb array of recordings is to be welcomed and valued on different levels simultaneously. First, it displays the colossal range and sheer variety of Bach's output; then the challenges of performing it and how these have evolved - exemplified by the multiplicity of recorded interpretations assembled here for the first time. Listening to any of these CDs will surely induce in you a heightened sense of consciousness – of the role of music which Bach enriched and extended so brilliantly. For him music was pure necessity. It occupied his whole being: to compose it and perform it demanded multiple skills, a capacity to solve puzzles and challenges, and a way of making sense of the world in which he lived. In our day the music of J.S. Bach continues to affect and change people’s lives in the most profound way. It has the power to reflect our innermost concerns and even to mitigate the way we respond to contemporary events.”
“Bach is regularly singled by composers across all traditions from jazz, pop, world and classical for his unique importance,” says Paul Moseley, Universal Music Group’s Director of Bach 333. “We have set out to do him, his life, his world, full justice, taking in current and past performance practice, fresh scholarship and the latest media, to produce something that will educate, entertain and deepen our relationship with probably the most influential composer of all time.”
Peter Wollny, Executive Director, Leipzig Bach Archive: “Deutsche Grammophon’s invitation to collaborate on the Bach 333 Edition was both a challenge and a welcome opportunity to bring the Archive’s research to the attention of the musical world through the recorded medium. We sincerely hope this Edition opens eyes and ears around the world to the universal relevance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s creative oeuvre both today and in the future.”
Bach 333 is released worldwide on October 26th in two language versions – English and German. The flagship Edition is accompanied by a 2CD entry level product Peaceful Bach and a suite of 13 digital products including Bach à la Jazz and New Colours of Bach, all aimed at achieving the widest possible awareness and engagement.
Set in four compartments:
Colour-coded for easy navigation and ordered chronologically by genre.
6 Tracklisting Books
CD by CD, Track by Track - includes full sung texts (German/English) and recording information
2 Hardback Books
Lavishly illustrated biography by Dorothea Schröder, with a foreword by Sir John Eliot Gardiner; plus 13 new essays by leading Bach scholars.
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.
BWV numerical listing and chronology (using new BWV3 research)
A–Z work and artist indexes
Specifications of the organs used in Bach 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 epresenting 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)
6 Albums Of New Recordings
There are 10 hours of entirely new recordings including a new recording of the Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin by period specialist Giuliano Carmignola, as well as 7 premieres of works never recorded before - 6 alternative Chorale versions and Beethoven’s only completed arrangement of a Bach work.
Watch our 13 Bach333 webisodes - a series of informative video interviews covering the most important questions and aspects of the edition.
The flagship Edition is accompanied by Giuliano Carmignola’s new 2CD release of new recordings of the Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, a 2CD entry level product Peaceful Bach and a suite of 13 digital products including Bach à la Jazz and New Colours of Bach.
These digital „bundles“ include new recordings of the complete four-part Chorales, rare organ and harpsichord works, the complete motets conducted by Gardiner, Biller and Koopman (1 bundle), the complete Clavier-Büchlein for W.F. Bach, complete Anna Magdalena books, and the complete Schemelli Gesangbuch. 2 digital bundles, “Bach à la Jazz” and “New Colours of Bach”, explore Bach’s unique impact on the world of music:
from jazz icons Loussier, Evans, Getz, Peterson and Thielemans to today’s artists, composers and remixers including Víkingur Ólafsson and Peter Gregson. Finally there are 2 digital bundles of legendary pianists and singers including piano performances from Gulda, Gieseking, Tureck, Demus, Badura-Skoda, Sviatoslav Richter, Weissenberg, Gavrilov and Horowitz; and vocal performances from Krebs, Wunderlich, Stader, Janowitz, Haefliger, Augér, Reynolds, Battle, Chappuis, Stader, and many more.