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Brandenburg Concerti

1. History
a. Collection of six instrumental works presented to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of
Brandenburg in 1721.
b. Thought of to be the best orchestral compositions of the Baroque era
c. Most likely not all written in 1721 but derived from previously composed
concertos while Kapellmeister at Kothen
d. Thought of more as concertos for several instruments in unprecedented
combinations.
e. Uses 17 instruments aside from the first concerto throughout the entire set of
concerti.
f. Because of a lack of funding by King Frederick William I of Prussia, The concerti
were never staffed with enough musicians in Ludwigs Ensemble in Berlin to be
able to perform the concerti.
g. Left unused even after Christian Ludwigs death in 1734, only to be rediscovered
in the archives of Brandenburg in 1849 and were published in 1850.
2. Concerto No 1. In F major, BWV 1046
a. Instrumentation: 2 natural horns, 3 oboes, bassoon, piccolo violin(tuned in minor
3rds), two violins, viola, cello, basso continuo.
b. Movements:
i. No tempo indicated but usually at Allegro
ii. Adagio in D minor
iii. Allegro
iv. Minuet and trio
c. Interesting facts:
i. The only concerto with four movements.
ii. Seems to be drawn from Sinfonia BWV 1046a, written during Bachs
years at Weimar.
iii. Used first movement used in later cantata BWV 52 and 3rd movement
was used in cantata BWV 207
3. No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047
a. Instrumentation:
i. CONCERTINO: Natural trumpet in F, Recorder/flute, oboe, violin
ii. Ripieno: Two violins, viola, violone, basso continuo
b. Movements:
i. No tempo but usually performed at allegro
ii. Andante in D minor
iii. Allegro Assai
c. Interesting Facts:
i. Trumpet part is considered one of the most difficult pieces in the trumpet
repertoire, both natural and valved.
ii. Originally written for a clarino specialist, most likely Johann Schreiber, the
court trumpeter in Kothen
iii. Trumpet doesnt play in the second movement, this is because the
trumpets of the time were not able to play in minor keys because they
relied on the harmonic series which does not include the notes necessary
to play in minor.
iv. The common practice in modern times is to use a piccolo trumpet pitched
in Bb which allows the player to play in the key of G major, however there
are many people like Niklas Eklund, Gabriele Cassone, and Friedemann
Immer that pride themselves on their natural trumpet virtuosity.
4. No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048
a. Instrumentation: 3 Violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, and basso continuo with harpsichord
b. Movements:
i. No Tempo given, but usually allegro
ii. Adagio in E minor
iii. Allegro
c. Interesting facts:
i. The second movement is only two chords, Am and BM in a phrygian half
cadence
ii. Thought to be meant to surround a cadenza improvised by harpsichord
around the two chords
iii. Outer movements are in ritornello form where there is an ensemble
passage and then soloistic passages that pass back and forth but the
ensemble always tends to be the same.
5. No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049
a. Instrumentation:
i. Concertino: Violin and two recorders
ii. Ripieno: 2 violins, viola, cello, violone, and basso continuo
b. Movements
i. Allegro
ii. Andante in E minor
iii. Presto
c. Interesting facts
i. The flute parts were originally intended for flauti decho however most
scholars cannot agree on what Bach actually meant when he said that.
Most people will play the parts on the modern flute or soprano recorders
in order to sound more like the solo violin and the brightness that comes
with the violin sound.
ii. The most important part of this concerto is the violin part. The first and
third movements of number four are extremely difficult and often thought
to be harder than Bachs actual concerti for violin. Bach however gives
the soloist a break in the second movement by having it play mostly with
the ripieno to support the flutes.
iii. This concerto highly resembles the concerti of the classical and romantic
era in how the structure is formed. It has long opening tutti and has
development sections in the middle.
6. No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050
a. Instrumentation:
i. Concertino: Harpsichord, violin, flute
ii. Ripieno: Violin, viola, cello, violone, and the harpsichord as well
b. Movements:
i. Allegro
ii. Affettuoso in B minor
iii. Allegro
c. Interesting Facts
i. This concerto brought the harpsichord to the front of the ensemble
instead of being just a ripieno member.
ii. Virtuostic technique needed by the harpsichord. Believed by many
historians that Bach himself was the only person at the time that had the
technical prowess to be able to play it. Features almost 100 measures of
harpsichord cadenza that seems to come out of nowhere in the first
movement
iii. Seen as being the origin for solo keyboard concertos because it is the first
use of a keyboard being used as the solo part.
iv. Written to show off the new harpsichord brought from berlin to Kothen
7. No. 6 in Bb Major, BWV 1051
a. Instrumentation:
i. Two viole da braccio, two viole da gamba, cello, violone, and harpsichord
b. Movements:
i. No indication, Usually Allegro
ii. Adagio ma non tanto in Eb Major but ends in Gm
iii. Allegro
c. Interesting Facts:
i. No violins means that the viola was raised from being an
accompanimental instrument to being a solo instrument.
ii. Sounds very dark because of the instrumentation and orchestration
causing it to foreshadow the coming classical and romantic eras.
iii. Probably written for so many violas because Bach played viola, as did his
patron Prince Leopold, and the Margraves orchestra had 2 accomplished
violists
iv. Features much interplay between the two violas and also with the cello
v. Most likely the oldest composition of the 6 which is odd because of the
numbering.

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