Saturday, 16 May 2015


“Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin.” - John Lubbock

Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France.

Bach’s compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and over three hundred sacred cantatas of which nearly two hundred survive. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.

Bach was born in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach, into a great musical family. His father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was the director of the town musicians, and all of his uncles were professional musicians. His father probably taught him to play the violin and harpsichord, and his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him the clavichord and exposed him to much contemporary music.

Apparently at his own initiative, Bach attended St. Michael’s School in Lüneburg for two years. After graduating he held several musical posts across Germany: He served as Kapellmeister (director of music) to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig, and Royal Court Composer to Augustus III.

Bach’s health and vision declined in 1749, and he died on 28 July 1750. Modern historians believe that his death was caused by a combination of stroke and pneumonia. Bach’s abilities as an organist were respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.

Here are his violin concertos, played by Elizabeth Wallfisch, Pavlo Beznosiuk and Catherine Mackintosh accompanied by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

1. Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041
Allegro moderato - 0:00
Andante - 3:50
Allegro assai - 9:37

2. Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042
Allegro - 13:10
Adagio - 21:05
Allegro assai - 27:03

3. Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043
Vivace - 29:50
Largo, ma non tanto - 33:38
Allegro - 40:01

4. Concerto for 3 Violins and Strings in D major, BWV 1064
Adagio - 44:43
Allegro - 51:22
Allegro - 57:04

5. Violin Concerto G minor, BWV 1056
Allegro - 1:01:45
Largo - 1:05:32
Presto - 1:08:10

6. Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060
Allegro - 1:11:20
Adagio/ Largo - 1:16:14
Allegro - 1:20:58

7. Violin Concerto in D minor BWV 1052a
Allegro - 1:24:34
Adagio - 1:32:40
Allegro - 1:39:20

8. Concerto for Flute, Violin, Harpsichord and Strings in A minor, BWV 1044
Allegro - 1:47:31
Adagio ma non tanto e dolce - 1:55:54
Tempo di Allabreve - 2:01:52

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