J.S. Bach: A Caffeinated Composer

Jun 20, 2017

Though coffee consumption was illegal in much of Germany during his lifetime, the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach was a known frequenter of Leipzig’s many coffee houses. His famously exuberant personality could have easily been attributed to his avid coffee drinking. So enthusiastic was he about the beverage that he composed a secular cantata about it entitled “Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering)” better known as the Coffee Cantata.

Composer J.S. Bach
Credit Portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann

Whether Bach’s Mass in B Minor’s composition was fueled by caffeine is up for speculation. But there is no doubt that it is one of the most celebrated choral-orchestral pieces in the classical repertoire. It was one of the final pieces he composed, and a culmination of his life’s work. Hear Orchestra Iowa perform it with Chorale Midwest, with guest vocal soloists Mary Wilson, Jessica Pray, Suzanne Lommler, Charles Blandy, and Stephen Bryant.

Tune in on Sunday, June 25th at 4 p.m. and again on Monday, June 26th at 7 p.m. for our 2017 Symphonies of Iowa series finale. Be sure to join us next week for our live broadcast of the Des Moines Symphony’s annual “Yankee Doodle Pops” concert on July 3rd at 8 p.m.


BACH                     Mass in B Minor


Chorale Midwest, directed by Bradley Barrett

Mary Wilson, Soprano

Jessica Pray, Soprano

Suzanne Lommler, Mezzo-Soprano

Charles Blandy, Tenor

Stephen Bryant, Bass