Air on the G String
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1920 recording, performed by Joel Belov (violin) and Robert Gayler (piano)
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Alexander Jablokov (violin)
Takako Nishizaki (violin)
Oliver Dohnanyi (Conductor)
Courtesy of NAXOS
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The original orchestral suite was written by Bach for his patron Prince Leopold of Anhalt some time between the years 1717 and 1723.
The title comes from violinist August Wilhelmj's late 19th century arrangement of the piece for violin and piano. By transposing the key of the piece from its original D major to C major and transposing the melody down an octave, Wilhelm was able to play the piece on only one string of his violin, the G string.
Later, a spurious story was put about that the melody was always intended to be played on the G string alone.
The Air on the G String was the very first work by Bach to be recorded. This was by the Russian cellist Aleksandr Verzhbilovich and an unknown pianist, in 1902 (as the Air from the Overture No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068).
In popular culture
- Sweetbox's Everything's Gonna Be Alright utilizes Air on G String in the background.
- A version titled 'Air' was performed by Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion, and was featured in the 2004 American crime thriller Collateral starring Tom Cruise.
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) featured Air on the G String when villain Karl Stromberg fed his treasonous secretary to a shark.
- A nearly full rendition of this piece was featured during the late-night library scene in the movie Seven, when Morgan Freeman's character Detective Somerset was allowed into the library by the night watch crew who played this music while playing poker.
- The End of Evangelion (1997) featured Air on the G String during a climactic battle between Asuka Langley Soryu and organization Seele's Mass Production Evangelion units.
- The piece is played and referenced in the Bad Moon Rising episode of The West Wing
- "Battle Royale"
- The piece will be featured in the upcoming horror video game The Evil Within.
- "Enter The Void" uses the piece as a theme for Paz De La Huerta's character Linda.
- BioShock Infinite features Air on the G String in the building of the Fraternal Order of the Raven.
- Air on the G String (Wilhelmj arrangement): Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Musical score and MIDI file at the Mutopia Project, Orchestral arrangement
- Free sheet music of Air on the G String from Cantorion.org
- Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major. Arranged for Piano performed by Serhan Özhan
- Air on the G String performance by the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber
- Usage in a 1980s TV advert for Hamlet