I - 1st &2nd movement /II - 3rd movement
The Brandenburg concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 1046–1051, original title: Six Concerts à plusieurs instruments) are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721 (though probably composed earlier). They are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era.
The inscription of 24 March 1721 on the dedication manuscript to the Margrave, attests for the date of composition for the Brandenburg Concerti, but most likely they had been written over a number of years during Bach's tenure as Kapellmeister at Köthen and possibly even extending back to the period of his employment at Weimar (1708–17).
The dedication page Bach wrote for the collection indicates they are Concerts avec plusieurs instruments (Concertos with several instruments). Bach used the "widest spectrum of orchestral instruments... in daring combinations," as Christoph Wolff has commented. "Every one of the six concertos set a precedent in scoring, and every one was to remain without parallel." Heinrich Besseler has noted that the overall forces required (leaving aside the first concerto, which was rewritten for a special occasion) tallies exactly with the 17 players Bach had at his disposal in Köthen.
Here is the first sentence of his dedication to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt, its tone, if not its rather remarkable length, typical of dedications of the period:
"As I had the good fortune a few years ago to be heard by Your Royal Highness, at Your Highness's commands, and as I noticed then that Your Highness took some pleasure in the little talents which Heaven has given me for Music, and as in taking Leave of Your Royal Highness, Your Highness deigned to honour me with the command to send Your Highness some pieces of my Composition: I have in accordance with Your Highness's most gracious orders taken the liberty of rendering my most humble duty to Your Royal Highness with the present Concertos, which I have adapted to several instruments; 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."
Because King Frederick William I of Prussia was not a significant patron of the arts, Christian Ludwig seems to have lacked the musicians in his Berlin ensemble to perform the concertos. The full score was left unused in the Margrave's library until his death in 1734, when it was sold for 24 groschen (as of 2008, about US$22.00 of silver). The autograph manuscript of the concertos was only rediscovered in the archives of Brandenburg by Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn in 1849; the concertos were first published in the following year.
In the modern era these works have been performed by orchestras with the string parts each played by a number of players, under the batons of, for example, Karl Richter and Herbert von Karajan. They have also been performed as chamber music, with one instrument per part, especially by (but not limited to) groups using baroque instruments and (sometimes more, sometimes less) historically-informed techniques and practice. There is also an arrangement for four-hand piano duet by composer Max Reger.
The first two bars of the sixth concerto's third movement (transposed in C major) are often used as a lead-in for radio programs distributed by American Public Media.Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048
Title on autograph score: Concerto 3zo a tre Violini, tre Viole, è tre Violoncelli col Basso per il Cembalo.