Bach was not only a composer; he was also an arranger. He arranged his own compositions for different purposes, for sure, but he also arranged the works of others. We believe today that he did this as an educational exercise, taking pieces he admired or that were revered by others and adapted them to new media. Such an example is the Concerto for Organ in A minor after a work by Antonio Vivaldi, BWV 593. The work by Vivaldi is the eighth concerto in his collection L’estro Armonico for violin (likewise in A minor), RV 522. Vivaldi’s opus 3 was widely published and celebrated. It’s got a strong opening theme and Bach’s re-working is interesting: he chose to re-write the piece for orchestra and violin for a single instrument, a church instrument.
In this episode, I think it’s worth exploring the original and listening to how Bach adapts the solo/ripieno structure to one instrument. We’ve already explored this in an earlier episode around the Italian Concerto, BWV 971. This time, however, Bach has chosen a more robust instrument that can more dramatically change color and volume.