Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Musical Monday Playlist - Brandenburg Concertos

J.S. Bach
The Brandenburg Concertos are a set of six musical works Johann Sebastian Bach presented to the Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt as a group in 1721. Although the concertos were all given over as a gift to the Margrave in 1721, it seems likely that several of them were composed earlier. Accompanying the compositions, Bach provided a dedication, which reads in part

"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 designed 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."

Christian Ludwig
The concertos were exceedingly innovative works for their time, using a broad array of instruments in combinations that had never been tried before. Ironically, due to a lack of musicians available, it appears likely that Ludwig was never able to hear the concertos himself, and they remained unused until after his death in 1734, when they were discovered in the Margrave's library and sold for a relatively trivial amount.

This playlist is fairly straightforward: Bach wrote six Brandenburg Concertos, and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra recorded performances of all of them. I posted them in part because one was played at my son's high school graduation, and in part because they are pieces of music that have inspired me over the years. I find them to be the perfect music to play when I am writing or working.

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