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Sebastian Reaches His 337th Year


The Boston Bach Birthday is Back! First Lutheran’s 14th-Annual Celebration of the birthday of the greatest of all Lutheran composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, will be on Saturday, March 19th. Beginning at 8:30am and featuring concerts, organ recitals, and of course the famous German lunch (tickets $15, available at the door), the day will end with a service of Solemn Vespers at 5pm. As always, all musical events are free and open to the public, and all may come and go as able. The complete schedule of events is HERE.

Traditionally the Boston Bach Birthday has showcased First Lutheran’s brilliant Baroque pipe organ, perfect for the music of Bach. For this, the 337th year since Bach’s birth, the celebration will feature organists Jonathan Wessler (8:30am) and Andrew Scanlon (1:15pm). Wessler will play the entirety of Bach’s Orgel-Büchlein, rounding out the program with other early and pedagogical works of Bach, including two preludes and fugues from the spurious Eight Short collection and the unique and exciting Pedal-Exercitium. Scanlon’s program will include a diverse array of Bach’s music, touching on nearly every genre he produced: concerto transcriptions, chorale partitas, chorale preludes, sonatas, and large-scale free works.

Lest the Boston Bach Birthday solely concern itself with Bach’s contributions to organ music, instrumentalists also make an appearance. Violist Maren Rothfritz (11am) will play three of Bach’s cello suites, transcribed for viola. And FLC’s own Aurelia, Magdalena, and Linnea Timko (10:15) will play solo and accompanied violin music.
The afternoon set will comprise two programs featuring authentic 19th-century grand pianos. Misuzu Tanaka (2:30pm) will present Bach in the 19th Century, a program of music by Bach written for harpsichord and organ, arranged by 19th-century pianists and performed on an 1882 Erard. Then Andrus Madsen and April Sun (3:30pm) will present Bach’s immortal Goldberg Variations as brilliantly arranged by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger for two pianos, four hands on the Erard and an 1878 Streicher. This will be a wonderful opportunity to experience Bach’s music as it would have been played and heard in the 19th century, on authentic instruments from the 19th century, performed by musicians who are specialists in 19th-century performance practice.

The Bach Birthday will conclude with Vespers for the Third Sunday in Lent (5pm), featuring Bach’s cantata BWV 106, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit. FLC’s own Pastor James Hopkins will officiate and preach. The service will incorporate hymnody and music of the sort that would have been heard at such a service led by Bach at his churches in Leipzig.

Fowkes organ in First Lutheran Church


Saturday, March 19, 2022

The First Lutheran Church of Boston

presented by The First Lutheran Church of Boston and the Boston Chapter of the American Guild of Organists

Complete repertoire list available at

8:30am Jonathan Wessler, organ The Orgel-Büchlein

10:15am The Timko Family, violins

11:00am Maren Rothfritz, viola Three cello suites

12:00pm German Lunch {tickets: $15 at the door}

1:15pm Andrew Scanlon, organ

2:30pm Misuzu Tanaka, piano Bach in the Nineteenth Century

3:30pm Andrus Madsen & April Sun, two pianos/four hands The Goldberg Variations, arr. Josef Rheinberger

4:30pm Prelude to Vespers

5:00pm Solemn Vespers Gottes Zeit ist die Allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106

Free admission to all concerts; donations requested Balcony seating: $20 at the door Contact: • 617-536-8851 Parking: Boston Common Garage


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