In 1721 Johann Sebastian Bach was granted permission to visit the residence of the Margrave of Brandenburg together with the court suite of the Prince of Keten, in whose service he then was. As a music-lover, the Margrave was delighted with the Prince’s composer and asked him to compose a concerto for his court as well – after the style of the Italian ones popular at the time, but in a German manner. This commission was timely indeed: Bach had begun to worry about the position of his patron who had recently married; this new wife showed no interest in music and the Prince took the decision to divert funds from the cappella to the army. Following all of these changes with displeasure, Bach was delighted to seize the possibility of demonstrating himself before a potential employer and music-lover. Very soon the Margrave of Brandenburg was presented with not just one concerto, but rather a cycle of six works written in the composer’s own hand with such astounding calligraphic elegance, not seen in any of his other scores.
The Brandenburg Concertos are indisputably some of the great German maestro’s best works. Despite the fact that the occasion for their creation was an external one, it also answered Bach’s inner demands: there are so many thoughts and discoveries in the music that the engagement of its composer is beyond doubt. The many bold orchestral techniques and vivid and – for the time – unexpected combinations, which even today can be accomplished by only the greatest performers, give each of the concertos a unique and distinctive character.