Using this Website

The Bach Cantatas - Using this Website

NB This site has been maintained at the expense provided by the author. Advertisments have been rejected so the only source of income is through donations (see the 'donate' icon on most pages which provides access to a Paypal site) . If readers make extensive use of the site for programme notes, research etc. they are requested to make a modest donation to ensure the continuance of the site.

There are three principal ways of using this site

  1. If you wish to access the essay on any particular cantata, enter its BWV number in the "Quick Search" box, top right of every page, hit 'enter' and click on the chapter as it appears, then click on 'continue reading'. NB use upper case letters and leave a space between the letters and the number e.g. BWV 22.
  2. If you want to read more about the background of this project, click onto the general introduction under 'about the project'. Additionally, each of the sections of each volume has its own contextual introduction.
  3. If you prefer to read the essays in sequence, click on the Browse icons on the home page and bring up the essay you require from the contents list remembering to click on 'continue reading'.

     N.B.  Volume 1 contains the sequence of essays comprising the first Leipzig cycle (chapters 1-62), the earliest cantatas (chapters 63-70) and the secular  cantatas (chapters 71-104). Volume 2 contains the essays of the second Leipzig cycle (chapters 1-50) and the later chorale cantatas (chapters 51-61). Volume 3 contains the extant cantatas from possible third and fourth cycles (chapters 1-46) and the oratorio/cantatas with the very latest works in the canon (chapters 47-55).


  1. Most CD recordings provide full translated texts. In these essays paraphrases are inserted into the essays in order to maintain all the information on the one page. A convention of four dashes is used throughout where translation/paraphrase is necessary e.g. 'Clues may be found in the isolated cries for help----hilf----appearing in the lower voices'.

    This removes the need to turn constantly to a different text when reading the essay.

  2. Music examples have been included, about 1100 in all. Obviously they cannot be used to illustrate every movement or theme and have consequently been selected so as to be as useful as possible to the general reader. Bar numbers are provided to enable the more serious student to locate quickly the relevant sections of scores (see point 5 below). Most of the cantatas are available on the internet and may be heard, in full, simply by googling the BWV number.

    Each example may be played (with computer-generated sounds) by clicking the icon above it. Hearing as well as seeing the extracts should be of particular value to those who do not read musical notation.

         NB You will need Windows Media Player or similar software to hear the examples. The first sound example you access when entering the site may take a few seconds to load. Subsequent ones should be faster.

  3. Cantatas in the text are referred to as 'C' numbers rather than 'BWV' to avoid the search engine displaying all references when a particular essay is sought. The numbers remain the same. Readers seeking information of the nature and functions of the eighteenth century cantata might turn to the first chapter of volume 2, Introduction and Background.
  4. References have been kept to a minimum in order not to disrupt the flow of ideas. However, quoted opinion and relevent factual information not readily available in the public domain  have been acknowledged through mention of the author's name and the relevant page number; refer to the  bibliography at the end of each volume.
  5. This web site is linked to and by clicking on the link at the end of each essay readers may access scores, full texts (and translations), recording lists, discussions and much additional information. Readers are warned, however, that  editions of scores may differ in the bar layouts: see, for example, the opening chorus of BWV 80.

    Between them, these two websites make up the biggest single, readily accessable source of information, analysis and opinion in English currently available on the cantatas. 

     NB     Sections may be downloaded for study purposes but all material is copyrighted and normal academic referencing citation should be used. Prior permission must be sought for the use of any material for, say, programme notes or any commercial usage.

Remember that you are never more than two or three clicks away from the essay about any cantata for which you have the BWV number.

Copyright J Mincham 2010; revised 2014 and 2017.