Brandenburg O No. 5 Movement 1 Analysis

Brandenburg O No. 5 Movement 1 Analysis-82
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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 reward), and that the works were considered so worthless that they were sold for a pittance upon the Margrave's death.

Indeed, Rifkin claims that the Margrave had a small orchestra that lacked both the instruments and sufficiently skilled players to cope with the demands of the Brandenburgs' diverse and difficult parts.

Thurston Dart calls Bach's presentation copy of the Brandenburgs a masterpiece of calligraphy but of far less value as a musical source due to the many errors that suggested haste.

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.

Thus, Wilhelm Furtwngler sees Bach's music as symbolizing divinity by exuding supreme serenity, assurance, self-sufficiency and inner tranquility that transcends any personal qualities to achieve a perfect balance of its individual melodic, rhythmic and harmonic elements.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): Comme j'eus il y a une couple d'annes, le bonheur de me faire entendre a Votre Altesse Royalle, en vertu de ses orders, & que je remarquai alors, qu'Elle prennoit qeulque plaisir aux petits talents que le Ciel m' a donns pour la Musique, & qu' en prennant Conge de Votre Altesse Royalle, Elle voulut bien me faire l'honneur de me commander de Lui envoyer quelques pieces de ma Composition: j'ai donc selon ses tres gracious orders, pris la libert de render mes tres-humbles devoirs Votre Altesse Royalle, par les presents Concerts, que j'ai accommods plusieurs Instruments; La priant tres-humblement de ne vouloir pas juger leur imperfection, la rigeur de gout fin et delicat, que tout le monde sait qu'Elle a pour les pices musicales Since I had a few years ago, the good luck of being heard by Your Royal Highness, by virtue of his command, & that I observed then, that He took some pleasure in the small talents that Heaven gave me for Music, & that in taking leave of Your Royal Highness, He wished to make me the honor of ordering to send Him some pieces of my Composition: I therefore according to his very gracious orders, took the liberty of giving my very-humble respects to Your Royal Highness, by the present Concertos, which I have arranged for several Instruments; praying Him very-humbly to not want to judge their imperfection, according to the severity of fine and delicate taste, that everyone knows that He has for musical pieces Scholars understand Bach to refer either to a trip he made to Berlin in March 1719 to approve and bring home a fabulous new harpsichord for his employer, Prince Christian Leopold of Cthen, or possibly to an excursion they made the following year to the Carlsbad spa.Apparently, Bach played for the Margrave, who requested a score to add to his extensive music library.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.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.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.Fortunately, secondary sources exist to remedy such lapses, notably copies made in 1760 by Frederich Penzel of earlier versions (now all lost).It is generally assumed that all the Brandenburgs were selected from a large body of Bach's existing concertos, some of which we know from admirers' copies and Bach's own later arrangements for other instruments, although none of the originals survives.


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