Violin Concerto in A minor (Bach)
|Violin Concerto in A minor|
|by J. S. Bach|
The Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041, was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. While it is "generally thought to have been composed at Köthen in 1717–23", Christoph Wolff has argued that the work may have been written in Leipzig during Bach's time as director of the Collegium Musicum; John Butt also believes that Bach wrote it "probably soon after taking over the Leipzig Collegium Musicum in 1729". In any event, the only autograph source to survive are parts Bach copied out (along with other copyists) in Leipzig circa 1730  from a now lost score or draft.
Structure and analysis
The piece has three movements:
1. Allegro moderato, in A minor, 2
The opening movement is in ritornello form. This means that there is a main section that comes back in fragments in both the solo violin and orchestral parts. This 'ritornello' can be found in the first movement up until bar 24. The motifs of the theme appear in changing combinations and are separated and intensified throughout the movement.
2. Andante, in C major, Common Time meter;
In the Andante second movement, Bach uses an insistent pattern in the ostinato bass part that is repeated constantly in the movement. He focuses the variation in the harmonic relations. Butt notes that "Bach seems to have associated" the ostinato scheme "particularly with violin concertos.".
3. Allegro assai, in A minor 9
In the final movement Bach relies on bariolage figures to generate striking acoustic effects. The meter and rhythm are those of a gigue. Butt describes it as "perhaps Bach's most animated and carefree movement in the minor mode.".
A typical performance of the concerto takes around 15 minutes.
Instrumentations and transcriptions
- Robin Stowell, "Violin Concertos," in Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 492
- Christoph Wolff, "Bach's Leipzig Chamber Music," in Bach: Essays on His Life and Work, Harvard University Press, 1991, pp. 234–237
- the copyists were J. S. Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Ludwig Krebs, and an unknown copyist: URL=http://www.bach-digital.de/servlets/MCRSearchServlet?mode=results&id=-1eoy0c7t6t1edhg1l0msk&numPerPage=10&mask=content/index.xml&query=%28source32%20contains%20%221041%22%29%20AND%20%28objectType%20=%20%22source%22%29%20AND%20%28source44%20=%20%220001%22%29%20AND%20%28source42%20=%20%220001%22%29&maxResults=0&inventsource.sortField.1=ascending
- Christoph Wolff, "Bach's Leipzig Chamber Music," in Bach: Essays on His Life and Work, Harvard University Press, 1991, pp. 234–37
- Robin Stowell, "Violin Concertos," in Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 493
- Violin Concerto in A minor: performance by the Netherlands Bach Society (video and background information)
- Violin Concerto in A minor: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project