Johann Sebastian Bach


When I first started this project about Bach's cantatas in 1995, I optimistically wrote the following:

"This is the modest beginning of an effort to present the German texts (with English translations and commentaries) of all Bach's more than 200 cantatas in an internet-accessible form. Since this cannot be done in one day, I will try to add 20 cantatas per year (even that might be too ambitious a plan). Like everybody else, I dispose of limited resources and time, so, I need your help. Everybody with relevant knowledge is hereby invited to send me the necessary additions and corrections. Let's try together to keep accessible some of the most beautiful music ever written, for ourselves, but also for the generations to come. Amen."

In the meantime, I received overwhelming help and offers from all over the world. I would like to thank all these kind Bach friends for their enthusiastic response. It has also become clear over the past few months, that, due to my other work and unexpected (but temporary) health problems, my original plan was too ambitious. I have all the German texts in html by now (thanks to the generous help of Imre Potharn, Szombathely, Hungary) and I will make those available as soon as possible. I will also continue to work on English glosses and to collaborate with my friends from Italy and elsewhere, in order to arrive at translations into languages other than English as well. Time permitting, I will also add an occasional commentary or article about the cantatas.

Another new development is that Z. Philip Ambrose, who was originally responsible for the translations of the complete cantatas as performed by Helmuth Rilling, has linked his pages to mine. So, in the near future you will have all German cantata texts (this site) together with their English translations at Ambrose's site. Needless to say, I am delighted about the world-wide cooperation possible now between all dedicated to the awesome legacy of the greatest musical genius of all time.

 Jan Koster, 24 January 1998

Currently, the following information is available:

General Introduction

Literature about the cantatas

Cantatas in alphabetical order

Cantatas by BWV number

Cantatas according to the church year

Cantatas in English translations (Philip Ambrose)

Cantatas (by BWV number) with English glosses and commentary:


German text only (glosses and commentary forthcoming):

|1| 2| 3| 5| 6| 7| 8| 9| 10| 11| 12| 13| 14| 16| 18| 39| 40| 41| 42| 43| 44| 49| 50| 51| 52| 54| 55| 56| 58| 61| 63| 82| 132| 147| 152| 172| 182| 191| 196| 198| 199| 208| 249|

Cantatas in Italian translation:

|1| 4| 21| 61|

Acknowledgments: I would like to thank Bert Veenhoff for the translation of BWV4 and BWV196. For html versions of the German texts, I would like to thank Andre van der Lugt (BWVs 43, 44, 49, 58, 82 and 198), Becky Tuszynski (BWVs 12, 18, 61, 63, 132, 152, 172, 182, 191, 199, 208 and 249) and James Pressler (BWVs 13, 14, 16, 39, 40, 41, 42, 51, 52, 54 and 56). For the Italian translations of the cantatas, I would like to thank Gabriella Buzzacchi.

Jan Koster
Last update: February 13, 2006