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When Christian Ludwig died, his ensemble comprised a mere six musicians, too few to perform the Brandenburg Concertos. There are, in addition, reasons to believe that Bach may not have composed these concertos specially for the margrave of Brandenburg, but rather that they were older compositions which he revised and collected in one bundle. On close inspection, the score appears to have been hastily written and in part copied from previous compositions. Indeed, several of these concertos do survive in earlier versions, revealing before reaching their current state these works already had a long history.

One must realize that in those days musicians were generally proficient with one or more secondary instruments in addition to their main instrument. Bach himself, for example, would undoubtedly have been the harpsichord soloist in the Fifth Concerto and have performed the first viola part in the Sixth Concerto. Perhaps, Prince Leopold joined in as second viola da gambist. This would explain the simplicity of the viola da gamba parts: though the first viola da gamba comes to the forefront as soloist in parts of the first movement, it would naturally have been contrary to the etiquette of the time that Herr Abel musically overshadowed Prince Leopold.

The broad setting of the FIRST Brandenburg Concerto indicates that it must have been com- posed for a special occasion for which additional musicians were hired. The horns play a particularly striking role.

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As there were no hornists in the court Kapelle of Kothen, itinerant hornists were often contracted to perform these parts. In this concerto the horns are equal partners with the other soloists: three oboes, bassoon and the violino piccolo.


  • J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, BWV 1046: IV. Menuet - Trio - Polonaise;
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The part for this last-mentioned instrument a somewhat smaller violin tuned a minor third higher was added in a later version of the work. Furthermore, a Polonaise, a dance-form that was gaining in popularity at the time, was added after the original close. In short, Bach com- bined in this work the three-movement concerto form with that of a short suite. In this heterogeneous concertino, consisting of violin, recorder, oboe and trumpet, the trumpet part merits special mention for seldom before had the instrument been employed with such virtuosity. While in the first movement the four solo instruments converse as a group of individuals, presenting the various motifs in alternation with each other, the strands of the recorder, oboe, violin and continuo parts in the slow movement are finely interwoven to act as a single instrument.

In the third movement, the entrance of the trumpet draws again attention to the special place of this instrument in the solo group. The THIRD Brandenburg Concerto is a true concerto for strings: three groups of three violins, three violas and three cellos with basso continuo, are presented in the first movement as equal partners. In all these instrumental pairs the names are similar, yet the families are entirely different. The violino principale part is very virtuoso and brilliant.


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Bach adapted this concerto in into his concerto for cembalo and two recorders BWV , written a tone lower, in F Major. In D Major. Probably composed last. In B flat Major. The lack of violins gives a very special color. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin:. With a brilliant performance by Andreas Staier. With the amazing bassoonist Eyal Streett. Like Like. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Enter your email address to follow Antonia Tejeda's blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Sign me up! Antonia Tejeda Barros. Instrumentation : two viole da braccio , two viole da gamba , cello, violone, and harpsichord or Piano.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046: IV. Menuetto - Trio - Menuetto - Polacca -...

The absence of violins is unusual. When the work was written in , the viola da gamba was already an old-fashioned instrument: the strong supposition that one viola da gamba part was taken by his employer, Prince Leopold , also points to a likely reason for the concerto's composition—Leopold wished to join his Kapellmeister playing music. Other theories speculate that, since the viola da braccio was typically played by a lower socioeconomic class servants, for example , the work sought to upend the musical status quo by giving an important role to a "lesser" instrument.

This is supported by the knowledge that Bach wished to end his tenure under Prince Leopold. By upsetting the balance of the musical roles, he would be released from his servitude as Kapellmeister and allowed to seek employment elsewhere. The two violas start the first movement with a vigorous subject in close canon , and as the movement progresses, the other instruments are gradually drawn into the seemingly uninterrupted steady flow of melodic invention which shows the composer's mastery of polyphony.

The two violas da gamba are silent in the second movement, leaving the texture of a trio sonata for two violas and continuo, although the cello has a decorated version of the continuo bass line.

In the last movement, the spirit of the gigue underlies everything, as it did in the finale of the fifth concerto. Because King Frederick William I of Prussia was not a significant patron of the arts, Christian Ludwig seems to have lacked the musicians in his Berlin ensemble to perform the concertos. The autograph manuscript of the concertos was only rediscovered in the archives of Brandenburg by Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn in ; the concertos were first published in the following year.

The manuscript was nearly lost in World War II, when being transported for safekeeping to Prussia by train in the care of a librarian. The train came under aerial bombardment, and the librarian escaped the train to the nearby forest, with the scores hidden under his coat.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major

In the modern era these works have been performed by orchestras with the string parts each played by a number of players, under the batons of, for example, Karl Richter and Herbert von Karajan. They have also been performed as chamber music , with one instrument per part, especially by but not limited to groups using baroque instruments and sometimes more, sometimes less historically informed techniques and practice. There is also an arrangement for four-hand piano duet by composer Max Reger.

Translated from the original French, the first sentence of Bach's dedication reads: As I had the good fortune a few years ago to be heard by Your Royal Highness, at Your Highness's commands, and as I noticed then that Your Highness took some pleasure in the little talents which Heaven has given me for Music, and as in taking Leave of Your Royal Highness, Your Highness deigned to honour me with the command to send Your Highness some pieces of my Composition: I have in accordance with Your Highness's most gracious orders taken the liberty of rendering my most humble duty to Your Royal Highness with the present Concertos, which I have adapted to several instruments; begging Your Highness most humbly not to judge their imperfection with the rigor of that discriminating and sensitive taste, which everyone knows Him to have for musical works, but rather to take into benign Consideration the profound respect and the most humble obedience which I thus attempt to show Him.

This section needs additional citations for verification. March Brandenburg Concerto No. Brandenburg Concerto. Allegro assai. Performed by the Advent Chamber Orchestra. A simple example of this piece is here.

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Allegro Andante in E minor Presto. See also: Brandenburg Concerto No. Allegro Affettuoso in B minor Allegro. Adagio ma non-troppo. Johann Sebastian Bach's Werke, vol. Wilhelm Rust, MacDonogh, Giles. Martin's Griffin. New York.