24 March 1721 – J. S. Bach presented six concerti grossi, his Concertos, styled after Vivaldi, which he had adapted to several instruments, to Christian Ludwig, the Margave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, along with a rather grovelling dedication: “…begging Your Highness most humbly not to judge their imperfection with the rigor of that discriminating and sensitive taste, which everyone knows Him to have for musical works, but rather to take into benign Consideration the profound respect and the most humble obedience which I thus attempt to show Him.”
Precise in form, mathematical in logical structure, they are a revelation to anyone with an ear encountering them. Played properly, that is.
The Concertos are one of the Great Baroque Sleepers of all time – intricate, sinuous, seamless, endlessly interesting; lost to posterity by neglect and the Margave’s inability to assemble the musicians to tackle them, the score was only published in 1850, and this is but one example of the astonishing indifference to the great man during life and thereafter, till his genius was re-discovered. As Sir Hubert Parry wrote of him, “No composer ever had a finer sense of the free and sensitively expressive type of melody, which the violin has a pre-eminent capacity for presenting, than John Sebastian…Moreover, no composer ever had a happier sense of vivacious, merry, sparkling dance measures...”
Charles Murray agrees that JSB was underestimated for 100 years or so after he left, but not by those in the know: “He was admired and studied by Mozart. Beethoven was deeply influenced by Bach, whom he called the “immortal god of harmony…”*
You can listen below, thanks to You Tube:[*Murray, C., Human Accomplishment (2003), p. 83.]
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