Switched-On Bach is the first album by the American composer Wendy Carlos, released under her birth name of Walter Carlos in October 1968 by Columbia Records. At the time of release, Carlos was six months into transgender hormone therapy. Produced by Carlos and Rachel Elkind, the album is a collection of pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach performed by Carlos and Benjamin Folkman on a Moog synthesizer. It played a key role in bringing synthesizers out of electronics laboratories and into the musical mainstream.
Switched-On Bach reached number 10 on the US Billboard 200 chart and topped the Billboard Classical Albums chart for more than three years from 1969 to 1972. By June 1974, it had sold over one million copies, and in 1986 became the second classical album to be certified Platinum. In 1970, it won Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album, Best Classical Performance by an Instrumental Soloist, and Best Engineered Classical Recording.
Switched-On Bach has been re-mastered and re-recorded over the years. The version presented here is the original 1968 release, recorded from vinyl. The man on the cover is not Carlos, as might be assumed, he is just an actor/model portraying Bach. A photo of the performer contemporary with the album is shown below. The image above is the second cover used for the album. The first, short-lived, cover showed the same man in a seated position. Carlos objected to the "clownish, trivializing" image of Bach, and also to some technical inaccuracies, and had it replaced.