The Carmel Bach Festival (CBF) began in 1935 as a four-day series of concerts at the Sunset School Auditorium and the Carmel Mission Basilica. Over the years, it grew to a three-week celebration of concerts, recitals, master classes, lectures, and open rehearsals, and in 2009 the Festival was shortened to two weeks. The Festival’s mission is to celebrate the works, inspiration and ongoing influence of Johann Sebastian Bach worldwide by immersing audiences in a festival experience integrating music, education and ideas. Under the leadership of Music Director and Conductor Paul Goodwin and Executive Director Debbie Chinn, the organization offers innovative artistic programming across all concerts, off-season activities to expand access outside Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula, and is taking strategic risks to cultivate younger and more diverse participants.
Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous founded the Carmel Bach Festival in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. The Festival began as a four-day festival of open rehearsals, events, and concerts conducted by Ernst Bacon and Gastone Usigli.
In 1938, Gastone Usigli was named Music Director, leading the Festival until his death in 1956. As his successor Dene Denny chose Hungarian-born conductor Sandor Salgo.
When Salgo retired in 1991, Bruno Weil was named the Music Director and Conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival. Maestro Weil concluded his tenure with the 2010 Festival.