An introduction to the analysis of the brandenburg concertos

Borrowings[ edit ] Op. In an influential study, musicologist Alexander Silbiger argues that in the last movement, "beginning with the opening figure, there is a series of almost literal quotations from the Sonata no. In the fifth movement Handel uses material from the discarded aria "Love from such a parent born" from Saul.

An introduction to the analysis of the brandenburg concertos

Scholars must speculate to fill the many lapses in our knowledge of so much of Bach's music. Nearly half his output is deemed lost and many of his concertos exist only in later arrangements or spurious copies.

But his so-called Brandenburg Concertos survive in his original manuscript, which he had sent to the Margrave of Brandenburg in late March Bach's own title was Six Concerts Avec plusieurs Instruments "Six Concertos With several Instruments" ; the familiar label adhered after first being applied by Philipp Spitta in an biography.

Bach left a brief but telling account of their origin in his dedication to the presentation copy of the score, handwritten in awkward, obsequious French which I've tried to reflect in translation: Apparently, Bach played for the Margrave, who requested a score to add to his extensive music library.

A persistent question, though, is why Bach took so long to respond, and then finally did. His patron not only loved music but was a proficient musician and spent a substantial portion of his income to maintain a private band of 18 and to engage traveling artists. As a Calvinist, Leopold used no music in religious observances, and freed Bach's energies for secular instrumental work and performances.

Yet, the relationship may have begun to sour, as Bach applied for an organ post in Hamburg in late but was rejected. The attempt was unsuccessful.

Indeed, it's unclear what, if anything, the Margrave did with the presentation score once he received it. Common wisdom is that the Margrave never bothered to perform these fabulous works, and perhaps never even examined the score.

The three-fold basis for this notion is that the manuscript, which passed through private hands into a library, is in such fine condition as to suggest that it never was used, that Bach never received an acknowledgement much less any rewardand that the works were considered so worthless that they were sold for a pittance upon the Margrave's death.

The Margrave of Brandenburg Yet, Malcolm Boyd deflates these myths, pointing out that a performance would not have used the full score, but rather copies of the individual parts, that the mere absence of any record of a response could evidence nothing more than the typically sparse documentation of the time, and that the score wasn't sold, but rather assigned a nominal value solely to assure that the Margrave's estate was divided equitably among his heirs.

Yet, the fact remains that the estate inventory neither cataloged the Brandenburgs nor even mentioned Bach, but rather included the scores in a bulk lot of concertos while individually listing presumably more important works by Valentini, Venturini and Brescianello.

In his Baroque Concerto Arthur Hutchings explains that this is hardly peculiar — despite subsequent acclaim, during his lifetime Bach was valued far more as a performer than as a composer, and his instrumental music was promptly forgotten once he attained his next and final post at Leipzig, where he focused again on religious music although he did perform some concertos and orchestral Suites in the s with the Collegium musicum, a fellowship of local amateurs and students.

Bach, around Joshua Rifkin offers a sadder but more practical explanation: Even so, their popularity would have to wait nearly another century for the phonograph. Since then, the Brandenburgs have been widely praised. On the most basic level, Christopher Hogwood claims that, beyond wanting to impress the Margrave with his versatility, Bach used them to codify and organize his miscellaneous output and so they represent an endeavor to imitate the wealth of nature with all the means at his disposal.

Similarly, Abraham Veinus regards them as the exemplification of Bach's creative thinking, comprising the full range of his thought, variety of instrumentation and inner structure — not a mere summary of the styles, forms and techniques of his predecessors but a realization and expansion of their full possibilities.

Others view the Brandenburgs as an inextricable facet of Bach's overall religious bent. Thus, Karl Richter stresses that Bach's universality can only be understood in terms of the theological, mystical and philosophical foundations that infused all of his art, and Fred Hamel asserts that Bach was able to develop all the resources of his craft only after years of work in the devotional sphere and that Bach never distinguished religious and secular music, as his entire body of work was aimed for the glory of God.

From that perspective, Bach's magnificent interplay of diverse musical elements can be seen as a reflection of his pervasive belief in the Divine harmony of the universe. Albert Schweitzer, too, views the Brandenburgs in metaphysical terms, unfolding with an incomprehensible artistic inevitability in which the development of ideas transverses the whole of existence and displays the fundamental mystery of all things.

Yet, despite the philosophical depth of such analyses and the extraordinary density and logic of Bach's conception that leads academics to fruitfully dissect his scores, commentators constantly remind us that the Brandenburgs were not intended to dazzle theorists or challenge intellectuals, but rather for sheer enjoyment by musicians and listeners.

In his introduction to the Eulenburg edition of the scores, Arnold Schering notes that the concerto was not only the most popular form of instrumental music in the late Baroque era, but also the primary vehicle of expression for grand, sublime feeling, a role later to be assumed by the symphony.

Boyd notes that with the exception of the First, each Brandenburg follows the convention of a concerto grosso, in which two or more solo instruments are contrasted with a full ensemble, and where a slow movement in the relative minor is bracketed by two fast movements, mostly structured as a ritornello Italian for "return" in which the opening tutti played by the full ensemble reappears as a formal marker between episodes of display by the concertino solo instruments and again as a conclusion, thus producing a psychologically satisfying structure.

After all, it's only human nature to seek the comfort of returning to and dwelling in the familiar. Wilhelm Fischer further divides a traditional ritornello into a motivic opening that establishes the key and character of the work, a continuation of sequential repetition, and a cadential epilog.

Vivaldi and others who established the concerto grosso model used nuances of texture, tone coloration and novel figurations to contrast the ensemble's ritornello and the solo episodes. Bach, though, tends to fluently blend and integrate them.

Indeed, in his treatise on orchestration, Adam Carse notes that Bach conceived his parts generically rather than in terms of specific instruments, and distributed them impartially and largely interchangeably, such that all sink into a common contrapuntal net without consideration of balance in the modern sense of orchestration.

Even so, some scholars assume that Bach customized the Brandenburgs according to the forces the Margrave had available after all, why would he present a lavish gift that the Margrave couldn't use?Infradian and ultradian rhythms essay bach brandenburg concertos analysis essay disaster management essay in marathi, best narrative essay canaanite myth and hebrew epic essays in the history of the religion of israel virgin media promotional mix essay essay about arthur ashe wife.

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In concerti. The term cadenza often refers to a portion of a concerto in which the orchestra stops playing, leaving the soloist to play alone in free time (without a strict, regular pulse) and can be written or improvised, depending on what the composer specifies.

Sometimes, the cadenza will include small parts for other instruments .

An introduction to the analysis of the brandenburg concertos