Happy Birthday, Bach!

It’s J. S. Bach’s 330th birthday today! In honour of his–wait a minute. Doesn’t this sound a bit familiar?

Bach’s birthday technically can fall on two different dates, depending on how you look at it. At the time of his birth, Europe was in the middle of making a switch from one way of marking the years (the Julian calendar, put into place by Julius Caesar) to another, more accurate one (the Gregorian calendar, put into place by Pope Gregory XIII). Though the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, it took a long time for it to be adopted throughout the world. In fact, the last country to make the switch was Turkey, in 1927!

So, if you go by the Julian calendar, Bach’s birthday is on March 21. If you go by the Gregorian calendar, his birthday is today, March 31. Pretty lucky of him to have two birthdays, eh?

As for music to honour his birthday (again!), here’s the final movement of Bach’s Sonata in B minor for flute or recorder and harpsichord, Presto. This version uses flute, but there are also recorder versions available on Youtube for anyone who’s curious.

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