‘Bach in the Subways’ will spread the German composer’s music throughout the city this month

March 10, 2020

Cellist Dale Henderson, photo by Phillip Guye, courtesy of Bach in the Subways 

Classical music lovers, mark your calendars: Johann Sebastian Bach’s 335th birthday on March 21 will be honored with a whole week of spontaneous, free performances of his music throughout the city. From March 19th to 25th, Bach in the Subways will bring hundreds of performers to the city to share the German composer’s work. The name suggests you’ll have to ride underground for a chance to see them play, but you can expect performers to spring up in public spaces above ground as well.

The tradition has been an annual event since 2010 when cellist Dale Henderson became convinced that the declining audience for Bach’s music—and classical music in general—could be attributed to the fact that people seldom experience it live. That year he began an intensive campaign of free Solo Bach performances in New York’s subways, and in 2011 started inviting other musicians to join him for Bach’s birthday. The tradition has grown every year since and now involves thousands of musicians in over 200 cities and 40 countries.

It’s all completely free of charge—in fact, performers aren’t allowed to take any tips or donations, so keep that in mind. “Bach in the Subways has always been a shared gift of musical joy and we want to keep it that way,” the website explains.


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