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Yes, it’s March 21st, and so the birthday of our dear friend Johann Sebastian. In honor of the birth of this great fellow, I hereby declare that we the household of Ryan Martin shall eat Reubens in our fair abode tonight, which for some strange reason seems more than appropriate (Reubens do have sauerkraut). (And maybe some ice cream when the kids go to bed?)

And here, at the blog where we try to dutifully remind our friends of his birthday each year, we shall honor this 327th birthday of Bach with a selection of performances of his great, impeccable, sublime Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 582. Scholars find all sorts of symbolic goodness in this piece, some even positing it’s in the shape of a cross. In the soundtrack of the drama that is my life, I fancifully imagine that it shall be played when upon my death my soul leaves this earthly temple and travels through the planetary and celestial spheres to his temporary rest in heaven until the resurrection. And, until that uneasy voyage, here it is for us to enjoy in a multitude of forms:

The c-minor passacaglia played by Hans-Andre Stam on the organ:


The c-minor passacaglia played by a chamber ensemble (Elaine Comparone on the harpsichord and the QCB):


The c-minor passacaglia played by trombone choir (!) from Columbus State University:


A piano transcription of the c-minor passacaglia composed and performed by Emile Naoumoff:


The c-minor passacaglia transcribed for orchestra by the great Leopold Stokowski, here conducting in a vintage recording:


My (current) favorite, the c-minor passacaglia transcribed for orchestra by Respighi, played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton at the Proms:


And, one more time, the c-minor passacaglia on the organ, played by Andrea Marcon, where you can follow the score: