Air on the G String

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1920 recording, performed by Joel Belov (violin) and Robert Gayler (piano)

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Air on the G String is August Wilhelmj's arrangement of the second movement in Johann Sebastian Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068.


A 21-piece string orchestra arrangement by the United States Air Force Band Strings of BWV1068.

Performed by
Alexander Jablokov (violin)
Takako Nishizaki (violin)
Capella Istropolitana
Oliver Dohnanyi (Conductor)
Courtesy of NAXOS

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The original orchestral suite was generally believed to have been written by Bach for his patron Prince Leopold of Anhalt between the years 1717 and 1723. However, the oldest surviving score is later, dating from Bach's time in Leipzig. Current thinking is that the suite may well have been written in that city for performance by the collegium musicum around the year 1725.[1]

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, Wilhelmj 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.[2]


The Air on the G String was one of the first works by Bach ever 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).[3][4]


  1. ^ "Bach's orchestral suites (review)". 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th edition, 1954, Vol. IX, p. 298, Wilhelmj, August
  3. ^ Bach Cantatas
  4. ^

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