British planes attack Lübeck using a new technique where a second wave of bombers is guided by the fires set by the first wave. Sir Arthur Harris, head of Bomber Command, explains the choice: “Lübeck was not a vital target, but it seemed to me better to destroy an industrial town of moderate importance than to toil to destroy a large industrial city. I wanted my crews to be ‘blooded’ as they say in fox hunting, to have a taste of success for a change.” 312 people are killed, 15,000 left homeless. 2,000 buildings (80% of the city) are destroyed including the great organ of the Marienkirche where Dietrich Buxtehude (†234) gave his Abendmusiken and to which Johann Sebastian Bach (†191) walked 320 km to hear in 1705.
March 21, 1685: Johann Sebastian Bach is born in Eisenach in the Duchy of Saxe-Eisenach of the Holy Roman Empire, the last of eight children born to Johann Ambrosius Bach, town music director and court musician, and Maria Elisabetha Lämmerhirt, daughter of a furrier.
November 22, 1710: Wilhelm Friedemann Bach is born in Weimar in the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar of the Holy Roman Empire, the second of seven children born to Johann Sebastian Bach (25), composer and musician, and Maria Barbara Bach, daughter of a musician. Johann Sebastian will have 13 more children by another marriage.
September 5, 1735: Johann Christian Bach is born in Leipzig, Electorate of Saxony of the Holy Roman Empire, eleventh of 13 children born to Johann Sebastian Bach (50), musician and composer, and Anna Magdalena Wilcke, daughter of a musician. Johann Sebastian had seven children by a previous marriage.
July 28, 1750: Johann Sebastian Bach dies of a stroke in Leipzig, Electorate of Saxony of the Holy Roman Empire, aged 65 years, four months, and seven days.
January 21, 1786: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (71) writes to Johann Joachim Eschenburg about Charles Burney’s Handel (†26) Commemoration, which Eschenburg sent to him. He disagrees with many assertions by Burney and finds Handel wanting in comparison to Johann Adolf Hasse (†2), Carl Heinrich Graun (†26), Reihard Keiser (†46) and his father, Johann Sebastian Bach (†36). He also reports to Eschenburg that “I recently burned a ream and more of old works of mine and am glad that they are no more.” (Wolff, CPE Bach, 214)
March 11, 1829: 18:00 Felix Mendelssohn (20) conducts (from the piano) the first performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's (†78) St. Matthew Passion in nearly a century. This performance, in the Berlin Singakademie, is much more successful than the original. Among the standing room only audience are King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel, Gaspare Spontini (53), Alexander von Humboldt, and Heinrich Heine. The conductor uses a baton for the first time. In the alto section of the chorus is Fanny Mendelssohn (23).
December 15, 1833: Frédéric Chopin (23), Franz Liszt (22), and Ferdinand Hiller perform JS Bach’s (†82) Concerto for three keyboards, at the Paris Conservatoire. Although reviews are positive, Hector Berlioz (30) will write, “It was heartrending, I swear, to watch three astonishing talents, full of energy, glittering with youth and vitality, apply themselves to the execution of this absurd and ridiculous psalmody.” (Zamoyski, 2010, 109)
November 9, 1835: Felix Mendelssohn (26), Clara Wieck (16), and Louis Rakeman perform J.S. Bach’s (†85) Concerto in d minor for three keyboards and orchestra for the first time in the composer’s home city of Leipzig since his death. The performance is very successful and continues Mendelssohn’s dedication to reviving the music of Bach. This day also sees the first complete performance of Clara Wieck’s Concerto for piano and orchestra in a minor, orchestrated by Robert Schumann (25), with the composer as soloist, Mendelssohn conducting. See 5 May 1834.
June 6, 1836: Felix Mendelssohn (27) arrives in Frankfurt where he plans to spend the summer. He will see Gioachino Rossini (44) every day for a week. Mendelssohn plays JS Bach (†85) for him at Rossini’s request. The Italian is very impressed. Mendelssohn also spends time with two young women who live in the house where he is staying.
May 17, 1843: At the request of Charles Gounod (24), Felix Mendelssohn (34) performs works of JS Bach (†92) upon the organ in the Thomaskirche, Leipzig for Gounod and other invited guests. Mendelssohn plays for two hours. Gounod will recall, “Great shivers ran down my spine, and every time I think of it I seem to feel those shivers again.” (Little, 70)
November 15, 1863: The Vienna Singakademie gives its first concert under the direction of Johannes Brahms (30). The eclectic program includes Viennese premieres of the Cantata no.21 of Johann Sebastian Bach (†113), Requiem für Mignon by Robert Schumann (†7) as well as works by Isaac (†346) and Beethoven (†36) and folksong arrangements. It is well received.
January 27, 1900: The Neue Bach Gesellschaft is formed to promote the music of JS Bach (†149) and produce performing editions.
October 25, 1932: Duke Ellington (33) and his Orchestra play for a class in music appreciation at New York University taught by Percy Grainger (50). Wallingford Riegger (47) is also present. Grainger favorably compares Ellington’s melodies with those of Frederick Delius (70) and Johann Sebastian Bach (†182). Ellington remarks “I’ll have to find out about this Delius.”
June 30, 1933: An evening performance in the Hôtel Singer-Polignac in Paris is apparently the first entire concert conducted by Nadia Boulanger (45). She directs a chorus and orchestra in cantata excerpts by JS Bach (†182), an organ transcription of a Vivaldi (†192) concerto, and the Brandenburg Concerto no.5. One of the bass choristers is an American named Elliott Carter (24). It is the first of 19 of Mlle. Boulanger’s concerts for the Princesse de Polignac over the next five years.
March 28, 1942: World War II: The last Dutch force on Sumatra surrenders to the Japanese at Kutatjane, Aceh. British commandos destroy the German dry dock at St. Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire. 390 of the attackers are killed. When the raid begins the Germans panic and kill 300 French civilian workers.
March 21, 1955: On the 270th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach, Olivier Messiaen (46) plays the French premiere of his Livre d’orgue at the Trinité, Paris. The organizer of the concert, Pierre Boulez (29), expected only about 50 people to attend and planned for them to enter through a small door on the side of the church. A large number of people showed up and Messiaen gains admittance to the building only with great difficulty. Among those taking part in the crush is the Paris chief of police, there purely as a music lover.
December 18, 1984: Previously unknown preludes for organ by Johann Sebastian Bach (†234) are discovered in the Yale University manuscript collection.
February 20, 1996: 13:15 Toru Takemitsu dies of acute pulmonary edema caused by collagen disease in Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan, aged 65 years, four months, and twelve days. During his final hours he listens to a radio broadcast of the St. Matthew Passion, his favorite work of Johann Sebastian Bach (†245).
June 8, 2005: The Bach Archive in Leipzig announces that a work for soprano and keyboard found in a shoebox last month in Weimar is a work by Johann Sebastian Bach (†254) dating from 1713.