Monday, March 16, 2015

Bach's Brandenburg Concertos

     The Münchener Bach-Orchester directed by Karl Richter in J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. J.S. Bach is known as a great composer and an organist virtuoso, who was a music leader (composer, conductor and accompanist) for the Lutheran church, an orchestra conductor and composer for the Duke of Weimer and for Prince Leopold. In 1721, during his employment for Prince Leopold, Bach wrote six string orchestra concertos called The Brandenburg Concertos dedicated to "His Royal Highness Monseigneur Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg."

It all started back in December of 1717 at the age of 32 when Bach was offered the job of Kapellmeister at the Court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt in Cöthen after a month of confinement by his previous employer, the Duke of Weimer. Bach left the Duke for Prince Leopold who loved music and was himself a violinist, harpsichordist and viola da gamba player. After four wonderful years, the prince got married to his cousin, the Princess of Anhalt-Bernburg. Bach and the princess did not like each other, so felt the urgency to seek employment with Christian Lugwig, whom met earlier. So Bach wrote the Margrave Ludwig a letter and sent these six concerti to display his abilities. As far we know, no answer ever came from the Margrave and the pieces were never performed at the Margrave's court.

The six Concerti are three movements each, except for the first concerto which is four movements. The instrumentation is based on the small orchestra that Bach led for Prince Leopold, which why there are some brass, some woodwinds, harpsichord and string orchestra. Each of the concertos has solos from the different sections along with the orchestral style, especially in the First, Third and Sixth Concerto.

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