On May 7, 1747 Johann Sebastian Bach arrived in Potsdam at the Court of Frederick the Great where his son Carl Philip Emanuel was employed as a court musician. Bach’s reputation as a gifted improviser and composer was well known. Ostensibly the meeting was so that Frederick could show the elder Bach his new, and recently invented, fortepiano, built by Gottried Silbermann. In reality this meeting may have been a chance for Frederick to challenge Bach to play so he could observe for himself how well honed Bach’s skills really were.
Upon his arrival Frederick presented Bach with a complex theme, which would become known as the Thema Regium (or Royal Theme). Bach was challenged on the spot to improvise a fugue in 3 parts using this theme. Bach handled this task neatly. Frederick then asked him to do the same, but this time in six parts! Bach declined to play it on the spot but promised to work on this task and send the results back to the King!
From this bit of palace intrigue came one of the most astonishing works ever composed; Bach’s “Musical Offering” BWV 1079. The piece is full of hidden bits of invention, symbolism and is a marvel of compositional technique.
Join us on the LAM YouTube Channel for three Thursday evenings at 7:00pm as we traverse this wonderful musical landscape. Or click on any of the links below to go directly to a particular program.
Be sure to click on "Show More" below each YouTube video to be able to see the program.
February 18, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Part 1: Ricercar a 3 (3-voice ricercar), plus six diverse canons
March 4, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Part 2: Trio sonata for violin, flute, and cello (continuo), plus Canon perpetuus and Fuga canonica in epidiapente
March 25, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Part 3: Ricercar a 6 (6-voice ricercar), plus two "riddle" canons