1. Waking up: Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht
What is better than the Coffee Cantata to start your day? Bach was said to be a coffee lover and this very short comic opera – a unique piece among his extensive catalogue – tells the story of a woman pleading with her father to let her sip a cup that is “more delicious than a thousand kisses”. Even if your choice of morning brew does not include a trip to Starbucks, the energetic and humorous nature of this cantata is sure to wake you up with a smile on your face.
2. Commuting: Brandenburg Concerto no. 2 in F major
When in 1977 NASA sent two robotic probes into the depths of the universe, they included phonograph records containing sounds and images meant to describe the blue planet to any intelligent life forms they might encounter. Two pieces by Bach were chosen to travel on the Voyager Golden Records, the other being The Well-Tempered Clavier. Considering you’ll have to drown out the rumble of a train carriage or the honks of traffic, the energetic Brandenburg Concerto is probably the best choice. And what cooler commute is there than a journey to the end of the Solar System?
3. While working: St. Matthew Passion
When listening to the choir and orchestra’s dramatic back and forth in this highly emotional piece, you can’t help but be swept up in the rising energy of the music and moved by the drama developing in front of you. Whatever you do to pay the bills, this two and a half hour concert is sure to help you feel like the world is your oyster and you are capable of overcoming any challenge.
4. Lunch break: Goldberg Variations
Canadian pianist Glenn Gould’s unique soft humming during his iconic recordings of the Goldberg Variations is the perfect soundtrack to accompany a well-deserved lunch after a busy morning. Originally designed to soothe the sleepless nights of a Russian ambassador, they are sure to be relaxing – so maybe have a coffee just in case. Lasting between 40 and 50 minutes, depending on which recording you choose, they are also the perfect length to give you a chance to recharge before round two of your working day.
5. At the gym: Orchestral Suite no. 2 in B minor
This piece starts calmly, the perfect backtrack for that all-important pre-workout stretching. It then turn into a vibrant, whimsical and fast-paced affair, making it a perfect companion to your treadmill, bike or rowing machine sessions. And if you find an orchestra that like to play fast and furious, like the Cologne Chamber Orchestra does, you are sure to get fit fast.
6. Walking the dog: Concerto in C minor
You can easily follow your pooch’s outdoors adventures with this vivacious concert that seem to have been written to serve as a soundtrack to a happy, sunny day spent frolicking in the grass. All you have to do is remember to bring some treats, a lead, a plastic bag – and your dog, of course. Bach will do the rest.
7. Doing chores: Violin Concerto no. 2 in E major
Nobody likes to do the dishes leftover in the sink from yesterday, but American violinist Joshua Bell can help. His rendition of the Violin Concerto no.2 in E major starts with an energising Allegro that will have you rinsing off your spoons in a jiffy. You can relax with a cup of tea for the Adagio (you know you deserve it) and then jump back up to your feet with the Allegro assai, lasting just the right amount of time you need to wipe the bathroom and sort through the recycling.
8. Getting ready for the evening: Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Adding a little drama to your closet’s conundrums is easy thanks to one of the most cinematic Bach pieces of all – featured in over 140 film and TV productions to date. And nothing beats getting ready to the thunderous notes of one of Hollywood’s favourite scores. Too much? You can choose the reworked version of the Fugue by British composer Daniel Pemberton, which you have probably heard in Sandra Bullock’s 2018 film Ocean’s 8.
9. Romantic dinner: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
This idyllic piece is sure to make your other half swoon. If including what is known to be a popular wedding song in your date night playlist feels a bit too much at this stage in your relationship, you can always go for the swanky jazz arrangement by American musician Jon Batiste. Do not be surprised if they expect to find a ring in their dessert, though.
10. Going to sleep: Air on the G String, from the Orchestral Suite no.3 in D major
What a day. Time for a glass of milk, a good book and a relaxing piece of music that will make you feel at peace with everything in the world. This famous overture is sure to let your soul soar, preparing you for a restful night. Schlaf gut!