Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach, after Vivaldi
Form/Instrumentation: Concerto for 4 Keyboards
Year(s) composed/published: 1730?, first Publication in 1865
Catelog #: BWV 1065
Related Works: Concerto in B minor, RV 580, by Antonio Vivaldi (Op.3, No.10) (originally for 4 violins, strings and continuo and published in 1711, here arranged by Bach.)
I. [no tempo indication]II. Largo
Work Group Info: The harpsichord concertos, BWV 1052–1065, are concertos for harpsichord, strings and continuo by Johann Sebastian Bach. There are seven complete concertos for a single harpsichord (BWV 1052–1058), three concertos for two harpsichords (BWV 1060–1062), two concertos for three harpsichords (BWV 1063 and 1064), and one concerto for four harpsichords (BWV 1065). Two other concertos include solo harpsichord parts: the concerto BWV 1044, which has solo parts for harpsichord, violin and flute, and Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, with the same scoring. In addition, there is a nine-bar concerto fragment for harpsichord (BWV 1059) which adds an oboe to the strings and continuo.
Most of Bach’s harpsichord concertos (with the exception of the 5th Brandenburg Concerto) are thought to be arrangements made from earlier concertos for melodic instruments probably written in Köthen. In many cases, only the harpsichord version has survived. They are among the first concertos for keyboard instrument ever written.
BWV 1065: Bach made a number of transcriptions of Antonio Vivaldi’s concertos, especially from his op.3 set, entitled L’estro Armonico. Bach adapted them for solo harpsichord and solo organ, but for the Concerto for 4 violins in B minor, op. 3 no.10, RV 580, he decided upon the unique solution of using four harpsichords and orchestra. This is thus the only harpsichord concerto by Bach which was not an adaptation of his own material. In the middle movement, Bach has the four harpsichords playing differently-articulated arpeggios in a very unusual tonal blend, while providing some additional virtuosity and tension in the other movements.