Christian History Timeline: The Gospel According to Bach

The Renaissance


1455 Gutenberg completes first Bible using movable type

1483 Martin Luther is born

1509 John Calvin is born

1517 Luther posts his 95 Theses on indulgences in Wittenberg

1521 Luther is excommunicated by the pope; at Diet of Worms, he refuses to recant writings; he begins translating the New Testament into German while hiding in Wartburg Castle

1523 Luther publishes Latin Mass for the church in Wittenberg

1526 Luther publishes German Mass for use in small congregations; Johann Walter becomes “the first Lutheran cantor” in Torgau

c. 1527 Luther writes hymn “A Mighty Fortress”

1529 Luther publishes Large Catechism and Small Catechism

1534 Luther publishes German Bible

1534 Break between Church of England and Roman Catholic Church

1536 Calvin publishes Institutes of the Christian Religion

1538 Walter writes “In Praise of the Noble Art of Music”

1539 Luther preaches at St. Thomas’s Church in Leipzig

1543 Copernicus argues that earth revolves around sun

1546 Luther dies

1555 Peace of Augsburg gives Catholic and Lutheran rulers in Germany the right to choose their territories' religion

1585 Johann Heermann, writer of the hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus,” is born

1595 Michael Praetorius becomes organist at Wolfenbüttel

c. 1597 The first opera Daphne is performed in Florence, Italy

The Baroque Period


1600 Shakespeare writes Hamlet

1603 Queen Elizabeth I of England dies

1607 Paul Gerhardt, writer of the hymn “O Sacred Head,” is born

1611 King James Bible is published

1618 Beginning of the Thirty Years’ War in Europe

1636 Heinrich Schütz writes German Requiem

1642 English Civil War begins

1647 Westminster Confession becomes the standard of Presbyterian faith in Scotland

1648 Peace of Westphalia ends Thirty Years’ War

1667 Milton publishes Paradise Lost

1668 Dietrich Buxtehude becomes organist at St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck, Germany

1669 Rembrandt dies

1675 Philipp Spener's Pia desideria launches German Pietist movement, emphasizing personal devotion and simple worship

1680 Antonio Stradivari begins making violins

c. 1680 Johann Pachelbel writes Canon in D Major

1685 Johann Sebastian Bach is born in Eisenach, Germany

1685 George Frideric Handel is born in Halle

1687 Newton publishes theories on motion and gravity

1695 Bach’s father dies; Bach goes to live with brother Johann Cristoph in Ohrdruf


1700-1702 Bach is a choirboy in Lüneberg

1703 Bach becomes lackey and musician at the court of Duke Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar

1703-1707 Bach serves as organist of the New Church in Arnstadt

1705 Bach visits Buxtehude in Lübeck

1707-1708 Bach serves as organist at St. Blasius Church in Mühlhausen

1707 Bach marries his cousin Maria Barbara

1707 Publication of Hymns and Spiritual Songs by English hymn writer Isaac Watts; Methodist hymn writer Charles Wesley is born

1708 First performance of Gott ist mein König, the only one of Bach’s cantatas to be published in his lifetime

1708-17 Bach serves in the court of Dukes Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar

1717-23 Bach serves in the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen

1720 Maria Barbara dies

1721 Bach dedicates six concertos to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg; he marries Anna Magdalena Wilcke

1722 Bach completes first part of The Well-tempered Clavier

1723-1750 Bach serves as cantor of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig

1723 First performance of Bach’s Magnificat

1724 First performance of Bach’s St. John Passion

1727 First performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion

1730 Bach writes a “Short But Most Necessary Draft for a Well-Appointed Church Music” to the Leipzig town council

1731 Bach publishes first part of Clavier-Übung (Keyboard Practice)

1732 Bach composes Coffee Cantata for Collegium Musicum performance at Zimmerman’s Coffee House

1734-35 First performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

1736 Bach is appointed Royal-Polish and Electoral-Saxon Court Composer

1741 Publication of Goldberg Variations

1742 Handel's Messiah is first performed in Dublin, Ireland

1747 Bach visits the court of Frederick the Great

1748-49 Bach completes B Minor Mass

1750 Bach dies

The Classical Period

1750 (–c. 1820)

1756 Mozart is born

1759 Handel dies

1759 Voltaire publishes Candide

1770 Beethoven is born

1776 American Declaration of Independence

1789 French Revolution begins

By Paul Westermeyer and the editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #95 in 2007]

Next articles

From Luther to the Lutherans

How a dynamic reform movement became a territorial church

David M. Whitford

From turmoil to peace

How Menno Simons and Pilgram Marpeck guided Anabaptists through troubled times

Mary S. Sprunger

Another accidental revolutionary

The rise of the Reformed tradition in France—and its most famous son

Jon Balserak

Calvin, Councils, Confessions, Did you know?

Calvin the teacher, Menno the preacher, Elizabeth the queen, and those unpronounceable French Protestants

the editors
Show more

Subscribe to magazine

Subscription to Christian History magazine is on a donation basis


Support us

Christian History Institute (CHI) is a non-profit Pennsylvania corporation founded in 1982. Your donations support the continuation of this ministry


Subscribe to daily emails

Containing today’s events, devotional, quote and stories