Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Harpsichord concertos (J. S. Bach)

Harpsichord concertos (J. S. Bach)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Harpsichord concertos (J. S. Bach)'
Start a new discussion about 'Harpsichord concertos (J. S. Bach)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The harpsichord concertos, BWV
BWV
The Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis is the numbering system identifying compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach. The prefix BWV, followed by the work's number, is the shorthand identification for Bach's compositions...

 1052-1065, are concerto
Concerto
A concerto is a musical work usually composed in three parts or movements, in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra.The etymology is uncertain, but the word seems to have originated from the conjunction of the two Latin words...

s for harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

, strings
String section
The string section is the largest body of the standard orchestra and consists of bowed string instruments of the violin family.It normally comprises five sections: the first violins, the second violins, the violas, the cellos, and the double basses...

 and continuo by Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

. There are seven complete concertos for a single harpsichord, (BWV 1052-1058), three concertos for 2 harpsichords (BWV 1060-1062), two concertos for 3 harpsichords (BWV 1063-1064), and one concerto for 4 harpsichords, (BWV 1065). Two other concertos include solo harpsichord parts: the concerto BWV 1044, which has solo parts for harpsichord, violin and flute, and Brandenburg concerto no.5, BWV 1050, with the same scoring. In addition there is a single 9-bar concerto fragment for a single harpsichord (BWV 1059) which adds an oboe to the strings and continuo.

All of Bach's harpsichord concertos (with the exception of the Brandenburg concerto) are thought to be arrangements made from earlier concertos for melodic instruments probably written in Köthen
Köthen (Anhalt)
Köthen is a city in Germany. It is the capital of the district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld in Saxony-Anhalt, about north of Halle.Köthen is the location of the main campus and the administrative center of the regional technical university Hochschule Anhalt which is especially strong in information...

. In many cases, only the harpsichord version has survived.

Compositional history


From 1729
1729 in music
- Events :*George Frideric Handel becomes co-manager of the King's Theatre, London.*Pietro Locatelli settles in Amsterdam, where he will spend the rest of his life....

 to 1741
1741 in music
- Events :*November 25 – Marguerite-Antoinette Couperin, the first female court musician at the French court, sells her official post to Bernard de Bury.*Johann Friedrich Agricola arrives in Berlin to study musical composition under Johann Joachim Quantz....

, Bach was director of the Collegium musicum in Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, a student musical society, founded by Georg Philipp Telemann
Georg Philipp Telemann
Georg Philipp Telemann was a German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family's wishes. After studying in Magdeburg, Zellerfeld, and Hildesheim, Telemann entered the University of Leipzig to study law, but eventually...

 in 1703 and run before Bach by Balthasar Schott. The Collegium musicum often gave performances at Zimmermann's coffee-house. It was for these occasions that Bach produced his harpsichord concertos, among the first concertos for keyboard instrument
Keyboard instrument
A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard. The most common of these is the piano. Other widely used keyboard instruments include organs of various types as well as other mechanical, electromechanical and electronic instruments...

 ever written. It is thought that the multiple harpsichord concertos were heard earlier than those for one harpsichord, perhaps because his sons C. P. E. Bach and W. F. Bach (both excellent harpsichord players) were living at home until 1733
1733 in music
- Events :*Susannah Maria Arne makes her stage début in the first opera written by her brother, Thomas.*Wilhelm Friedemann Bach is appointed organist of St Sophia's Church, Dresden.*Jean-Marie Leclair becomes musical director to King Louis XV of France....

 and 1734
1734 in music
-Events:*March 29 – Louis-Gabriel Guillemain becomes first violinist at the Royal Academy in Dijon.*Foundation of the Imperial Ballet School at Saint Petersburg....

, respectively. It is likely that Johann Ludwig Krebs
Johann Ludwig Krebs
Johann Ludwig Krebs was a Rococo musician and composer primarily for the pipe organ.-Life:Krebs was born in 1713 in Buttelstedt, Germany to Johann Tobias Krebs, a well-known organist. J. Tobias had at least three sons who were considered musically talented, and J...

, who studied with Bach until 1735
1735 in music
-Events:*February 18 – Flora becomes the first opera performed in the United States – at Charleston, South Carolina.*Maurice Greene is appointed Master of the King's Musick....

, also played harpsichord in the Collegium musicum.

The concertos for one harpsichord, BWV 1052-1059, survive in an autograph score (now in the Staatsbibliothek Berlin
Berlin State Library
The Berlin State Library is a library in Berlin, Germany and a property of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.-Buildings:The State Library runs several premises, three of which are open for users, namely House 1 in Unter den Linden 8, House 2 in Potsdamer Straße 33 and the newspaper archive...

, Mus. ms. Bach P 234) which is not a fair copy but a draft, or working score, and has been dated to about 1738
1738 in music
- Events :* Antonio Vivaldi conducts a festival to celebrate the 100th opening of the Schouwburg theater* Jean-Baptiste Landé creates the Russian ballet.-Opera:*Thomas Arne – Comus*Antonio Bioni – Girita...

. Bach may of course have played the works much earlier, using the parts from an original melody-instrument concerto and extemporising a suitable harpsichord version while playing.

The works BWV 1052-1057 were intended as a set of six, shown in the manuscript in Bach's traditional manner beginning with 'J.J.' (Jesu Juva) and ending with 'Finis. S. D. Gl.' (Soli Deo Gloria
Soli Deo gloria
Soli Deo gloria is one of the five solas propounded to summarise the Reformers' basic beliefs during the Protestant Reformation; it is a Latin term for Glory to God alone....

). Aside from the Brandenburg concertos
Brandenburg concertos
The Brandenburg concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721 . They are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era...

, it is the only such collection of concertos in Bach's oeuvre. The concerto BWV 1058 and fragment BWV 1059 are contained at the end of the score, and are an earlier attempt at a set of (headed J.J.) which was abandoned for one reason or another.

Bach's harpsichord concertos were, until recently, often underestimated by scholars, who did not have the convenience of hearing the benefits that historically informed performance
Historically informed performance
Historically informed performance is an approach in the performance of music and theater. Within this approach, the performance adheres to state-of-the-art knowledge of the aesthetic criteria of the period in which the music or theatre work was conceived...

 has brought to works such as these: for instance Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer OM was a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire...

 wrote 'The transcriptions have often been prepared with almost unbelievable cursoriness and carelessness. Either time was pressing or he was bored by the matter.' Recent research has demonstrated quite the reverse to be true; he transferred solo parts to the harpsichord with typical skill and variety. Bach's interest in the harpsichord concerto form can be inferred from the fact that he arranged every suitable melody
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

-instrument concerto as a harpsichord concerto, and while the harpsichord versions have been preserved the same is not true of the melody-instrument versions.

Concerto I in D minor, BWV 1052

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 22 minutes

This harpsichord concerto is thought to be based on a lost violin concerto in D minor which was later arranged as an organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

 concerto in 1728
1728 in music
- Events :*Giuseppe Tartini opens a school for violinists in Padua.*Johann Georg Pisendel begins studying composition under Johann David Heinichen.*Domenico Scarlatti returns to Rome, where he meets his first wife....

 for use in two of Bach's cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

s; the first two movements for the sinfonia and first choral movement of Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen, BWV 146 and the last movement is in Ich habe meine Zuversicht, BWV 188. The original is probably one of Bach's earliest concertos and is very virtuosic, in a similar manner to Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi , nicknamed because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe...

's Grosso Mogul violin concerto, RV
Ryom Verzeichnis
The Ryom-Verzeichnis or Répertoire des oeuvres d'Antonio Vivaldi is a catalog of the music of Antonio Vivaldi created by Peter Ryom...

 208, which Bach knew and transcribed for solo organ, BWV 594.

The harpsichord transcription
Transcription (music)
In music, transcription can mean notating a piece or a sound which was previously unnotated, as, for example, an improvised jazz solo. Further examples include ethnomusicological notation of oral traditions of folk music, such as Béla Bartók's and Ralph Vaughan Williams' collections of the national...

 was made by transferring the ripieno
Ripieno
Ripieno or tutti can refer to:*the larger of the two ensembles in the concerto grosso. This is opposed to the concertino which are the soloists.*the notes added when realizing the figured bass of a basso continuo....

 string parts without alteration and considerably augmenting the solo part for harpsichord to make it as comparatively virtuosic as the original must have been, as well as adding chords to fill in the harmony
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 and figurative developments in the left hand. This is particularly notable in the first and third movements; in the second movement, however, the left hand almost exactly duplicates the ripieno continuo part, and the right hand plays a melody that is probably taken directly from the original violin part.

The first and third movements share a similar harmonic structure based upon which the movements can be divided into four sections. The opening section of both movements gives the theme in the tonic (D minor) followed by a statement of the theme in the relative major (F major). The second section modulates to the dominant (A minor) and then its relative major (C major). The third section modulates to the subdominant (G minor) and its relative major (B flat major). Finally, the fourth section gives a recapitulation of the theme in the tonic, with no subsequent major key statement.

This concerto has remained the most popular of the collection from the 19th century onwards; Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

 played it and Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

 wrote a cadenza
Cadenza
In music, a cadenza is, generically, an improvised or written-out ornamental passage played or sung by a soloist or soloists, usually in a "free" rhythmic style, and often allowing for virtuosic display....

 for it; the first publication of it was in 1838
1838 in music
- Events :*March 7 – Jenny Lind, the "Swedish Nightingale" debuts at the Stockholm Opera*Giovanni Ricordi buys Giuseppe Verdi's copyrights.*Frédéric Chopin begins his affair with George Sand.- Popular music :...

 by the Kistner Publishing House. It was often played and recorded with the piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

 in the 20th century, though with the rise of historically informed performance
Historically informed performance
Historically informed performance is an approach in the performance of music and theater. Within this approach, the performance adheres to state-of-the-art knowledge of the aesthetic criteria of the period in which the music or theatre work was conceived...

 from the 1960s, it is now regularly played on the harpsichord again.

There also exists a version of this harpsichord concerto transcribed by C. P. E. Bach in 1733 or 1734, listed as BWV 1052a; it is not executed particularly well but shows that the process was studied in Bach's household.

Concerto II in E major, BWV 1053

  1. Allegro
  2. Siciliano
  3. Allegro


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 19 minutes

This harpsichord concerto is thought to be based on a concerto for a wind instrument, probably oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

 or oboe d'amore
Oboe d'amore
The oboe d'amore , less commonly oboe d'amour, is a double reed woodwind musical instrument in the oboe family. Slightly larger than the oboe, it has a less assertive and more tranquil and serene tone, and is considered the mezzo-soprano of the oboe family, between the oboe itself and the cor...

, and from stylistic considerations, it may have dated from Bach's time in Leipzig. It exists, like BWV 1052, in a later transcription in his cantatas Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169 and Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen, BWV 49
Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen, BWV 49
Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen , BWV 49, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the 20th Sunday after Trinity Sunday and first performed it 3 November 1726....

, from which further inferences can be made about the original concerto.

Bach changed his method of arrangement with this work, significantly altering the ripieno parts from the original concerto for the first time, limited much more to the tutti
Tutti
Tutti is an Italian word literally meaning all or together and is used as a musical term, for the whole orchestra as opposed to the soloist...

 sections. The lower string parts were much reduced in scope, allowing the harpsichord bass
Bass note
In music theory, the bass note of a chord or sonority is the lowest note played or notated. If there are multiple voices it is the note played or notated in the lowest voice. While the bass note is often the root or fundamental of the chord, it does not have to be, and sometimes one of the other...

 to be more prominent, and the upper strings were likewise modified to allow the harpsichord to be at the forefront of the texture.

Concerto III in D major, BWV 1054

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio e piano sempre
  3. Allegro


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 17 minutes

The surviving violin concerto in E major, BWV 1042 was the model for this work, which was transposed down a tone to allow the top note e to be reached as d, the common top limit on harpsichords of the time. The transcription process was based on the same principles as BWV 1053.

Concerto IV in A major, BWV 1055

  1. Allegro
  2. Larghetto
  3. Allegro ma non tanto


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 14 minutes

Probably based on a lost concerto for oboe d'amore
Oboe d'amore
The oboe d'amore , less commonly oboe d'amour, is a double reed woodwind musical instrument in the oboe family. Slightly larger than the oboe, it has a less assertive and more tranquil and serene tone, and is considered the mezzo-soprano of the oboe family, between the oboe itself and the cor...

, this is a mature and formally concentrated work. There exists a figured bass
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 continuo part for this concerto, which was added later, probably for a particular occasion at which a second harpsichord, chamber organ or theorbo
Theorbo
A theorbo is a plucked string instrument. As a name, theorbo signifies a number of long-necked lutes with second pegboxes, such as the liuto attiorbato, the French théorbe des pièces, the English theorbo, the archlute, the German baroque lute, the angélique or angelica. The etymology of the name...

 filled out the harmony of the continuo bass.

Concerto V in F minor, BWV 1056

  1. Allegro moderato
  2. Largo
  3. Presto


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 10 minutes

The outer movements probably come from a violin concerto which was in G minor, and the middle movement is probably from an oboe concerto in F major; this movement is also the sinfonia to the cantata Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe, BWV 156.

Concerto VI in F major, BWV 1057

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Allegro assai


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, flauto dolce (recorder
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

) I/II, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 17 minutes

A transcription of Brandenburg concerto no.4, BWV 1049; because it also involves parts for two solo recorders, this is a concerto grosso
Concerto grosso
The concerto grosso is a form of baroque music in which the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists and full orchestra...

. The harpsichord mainly plays the original violin part, but also takes on the material of the recorders-violin trio in the slow movement, plays with the recorders in four-part harmony, plays a reduction of the fugal material with the strings in the last movement, and, when doing nothing else, plays a lavishly written-out continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

. Bach probably placed this concerto as the last of the set intentionally, as the pinnacle of the series, due to the richness of instrumental color produced by the three families of instruments, and the extraordinarily varied and effective harpsichord part.

Concerto in G minor, BWV 1058

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Allegro assai


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 14 minutes

Probably Bach's first attempt at writing out a full harpsichord concerto, this is a transcription of the violin concerto in A minor, BWV 1041. It seems Bach was dissatisfied with this work, the most likely reason being that he did not alter the ripieno parts very much, so the harpsichord was swamped by the orchestra too much to be an effective solo instrument.

Bach did not continue the intended set which he had marked with a 'J.J.' at the start of this work; he abandoned the next harpsichord concerto, the fragment BWV 1059, which was to be based on an oboe concerto, after 10 incomplete bars.

Concerto in D minor, BWV 1059

  1. No Tempo Indication


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 20 seconds

Fragment consisting of 9 bars. Taken from the opening Sinfonia of the Cantata, BWV 35 “Geist und Seele wird verwirret” (1726) In the cantata, Bach uses an obbligato organ not only in the two sinfonias (which evidently form the first and last movements of a lost instrumental concerto, possibly for oboe) but also in the aria No. 1, whose siciliano character likewise points to its original function as a concerto movement. Bach intended to write this out as a harpsichord concerto but abandoned the endeavor after only 9 bars. Some modern scholars have constructed a proposed harpsichord or oboe concerto from BWV 35.

Concerto in A minor, BWV 1044

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio ma non tanto e dolce
  3. Alla breve


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 solo, flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 solo, violin I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 22 minutes

Though this is a concerto for three instruments (hence it is occasionally called Bach's triple concerto), the harpsichord has the most prominent role and greatest quantity of material; there are several cadenzas and virtuosic passages for the instrument; the scoring is identical to that of Brandenburg concerto no.5, BWV 1050, though the character is quite different. The first and third movements are adapted from the prelude
Prelude (music)
A prelude is a short piece of music, the form of which may vary from piece to piece. The prelude can be thought of as a preface. It may stand on its own or introduce another work...

 and fugue
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

 in A minor for solo harpsichord, BWV 894, which have been developed with added tutti sections. The middle movement is from the trio sonata for organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

 in D minor, BWV 527, which has been expanded to four voices; only the solo instruments play, and the flute and violin share the melody and accompaniment, switching roles on the repeat of each half.

Concertos for two harpsichords



Concerto in C minor, BWV 1060

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 I/II solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 14 minutes

While the existing score is in the form of a concerto for harpsichord and strings, Bach scholars believe it to be a transcription of a lost double concerto in D minor; a reconstructed arrangement of this concerto for two violins or violin and oboe is classified as BWV 1060R. The subtle and masterful way in which the solo instruments blend with the orchestra marks this out as one of the most mature works of Bach's years at Köthen. The middle movement is a cantabile
Cantabile
Cantabile is a musical term meaning literally "singable" or "songlike" . It has several meanings in different contexts. In instrumental music, it indicates a particular style of playing designed to imitate the human voice. For 18th century composers, the term is often used synonymously with...

 for the solo instruments with orchestral accompaniment.

Concerto in C major, BWV 1061

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio ovvero Largo
  3. Fuga


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 I/II solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 19 minutes

Of all Bach's harpsichord concertos, this is probably the only one that originated as a harpsichord work, though not in an orchestral guise. The work originated as a concerto for two harpsichords unaccompanied (in the manner of the Italian Concerto, BWV 971), and the addition of the orchestral parts may not have been by Bach himself. The string orchestra does not fulfil an independent role, and only appears to augment cadences; it is silent in the middle movement. The harpsichords have much dialogue between themselves and play in an antiphonal manner throughout.

Concerto in C minor, BWV 1062

  1. Andante
  2. Allegro assai


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 I/II solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 15 minutes

The well-known concerto for two violins in D minor, BWV 1043
Double Violin Concerto (Bach)
The Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings and Continuo in D Minor, BWV 1043, also known as the Double Violin Concerto or "Bach Double", is perhaps one of the most famous works by J. S. Bach and considered among the best examples of the work of the late Baroque period. Bach wrote it between 1730 and 1731...

 is the basis of this transcription. It was transposed down a tone for the same reason as BWV 1054, so that the top note would be d.

Concerto in D minor, BWV 1063

  1. Ohne Satzbezeichnung
  2. Alla Siciliana
  3. Allegro


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 I/II/III solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 14 minutes

Scholars have yet to settle on the probable scoring and tonality of the concerto on which this was based, though they do think it is, like the others, a transcription.

Bach's sons may have been involved in the composition of this work. Bach's sons may have also been involved in the performances of this particular concerto, as Friedrich Konrad Griepenkerl wrote in the foreward to the first edition that was published in 1845 that the work owed its existence "presumably to the fact that the father wanted to give his two eldest sons, W. Friedemann and C.Ph. Emanuel Bach, an opportunity to exercise themselves in all kinds of playing." It is believed to have been composed by 1733 at the latest.

Concerto in C major, BWV 1064

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro assai


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 I/II/III solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 17 minutes

This concerto was probably based on an original in D major for three violins, and shows some similarity with that for two violins/harpsichords, BWV 1043/1061, in the interaction of the concertino group with the ripieno and the cantabile slow movement.

Concerto in A minor, BWV 1065

  1. Allegro
  2. Largo
  3. Allegro


Scoring: harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 I/II/III/IV solo, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 I/II, viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

, continuo
Figured bass
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones, in relation to a bass note...

 (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, violone
Violone
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument...

)

Length: c. 10 minutes

Bach made a number of transcriptions from Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi , nicknamed because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe...

's concertos, especially from his op.3 set, entitled L'estro Armonico
L'estro Armonico
L'Estro Armonico, Op. 3, is a collection of twelve concertos for 1, 2 and 4 violins written by Antonio Vivaldi in 1711. It largely augmented the reputation of Vivaldi as Il Prete Rosso;...

; he adapted them for solo harpsichord and solo organ, and for the concerto for 4 violins in B minor, op.3 no.10, RV 580, he decided upon the unique solution of using four harpsichords and orchestra. This is thus the only harpsichord concerto by Bach which was not an adaptation of his own material. The middle movement has the four harpsichords playing differently-articulated arpeggio
Arpeggio
An arpeggio is a musical technique where notes in a chord are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than ringing out simultaneously...

s in a very unusual tonal blend, while Bach provided some additional virtuosity and tension in the other movements.

External links

  • Program notes from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
    Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
    The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is a 40-member American chamber orchestra based in Los Angeles, California, considered by music critic Jim Svejda as "America's finest chamber orchestra".-History:...