2023 Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Ton Koopman
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
Ton Koopman, conductor
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Musikalisches Opfer, BWV 1079 (Musical Offering, 1747)
A Gift of Kings
Bach visited King Frederick II of Prussia in the spring of 1747 at his residence at Sansoucci, in Potsdam. Knowing the composer’s skill in the art of improvisation, the king offered him a theme of his own making to improvise. Apparently, the king’s wishes were for Bach to compose a six-voice fugue from it, but the musician made him aware of the practical impossibility of such an endeavour and improvised a three-voice fugue. After returning to Leipzig, Bach wrote a cycle of variations on that theme (the “royal theme”), which included the long-awaited fugue to 6, and sent it to Frederick under the title of Musical Offering. The work fitted Bach’s obsession with contrapuntal exploitation to the maximum of any motive that rendered itself minimally to it. This work was not only a gift to the Prussian king, but to all humanity, a true gift of kings. And now the Amsterdam Baroques in solo formation, with Koopman on the harpsichord, will present it to the audience at the Festival’s altarpiece.
Concert with no interval
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