BWV 1064

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Concerto for three harpsichords in C major

BWV 1064 performed by Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Siebe Henstra, Menno van Delft and the Netherlands Bach Society
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam

"Bach brings the virtuosity of the violin to the keyboard."

Bach’s most interesting concerto

Bach attracted attention to himself and his sons with this concerto.

The Concert in C major for three harpsichords is Bach’s most interesting concerto, thinks harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen. “It’s such a rich piece that I can work on it for ages. It’s more integrated and contains more conversation than any of Bach’s other concertos”. The harpsichordists nearly always operate as a whole, even playing large parts the same in one hand or even both. Brief solo passages serve more as an effect. It is only in the closing movement that there is scope for true solos: first arpeggios, like in the ‘Brandenburg’ concerto no. 5, then a continuous bass line with jumpy accompaniment, and finally some dramatic chromaticism in the first keyboard. A return of the frivolous triplets brings this virtuoso party to a rather abrupt end. It is remarkable that there is no continuo in the first and third movement; only a ‘bare’ bass line - which is actually quite modern.

Performance material for father and sons
Like nearly all of Bach’s other keyboard concertos, this concerto did not originate as a keyboard work, but was probably originally intended as a concerto for three violins. Prejudices against arranging ignore the fact that Bach deliberately created new versions of existing music. This concerto was probably created in the 1740’s to be played at the Zimmermannsches Kaffeehaus, where the Leipziger Collegium Musicum brought together many musical stars of the day to play concerts of the very highest standard. All eyes were on Bach when he twice led the Collegium for a few years, alongside his cantorship at St Thomas Church. And he also knew that a dazzling concerto for three harpsichords would attract positive attention to himself and his two sons, Carl Philipp Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann, who had not quite left home yet. As his age was preventing him from playing so much violin, Bach’s keyboard career could do with a boost.


Concerto for three harpsichords in C major

orchestral work (concerto)

around 1735-1745


Special notes
Probably an arrangement of a concerto for 3 violins (BWV 1064R)

Cast & Crew

release date 22 June 2018
recording date 15 October 2017
location Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam
Direction Lars Ulrik Mortensen
HARPSICHORDISTS Siebe Henstra, Menno van Delft, Lars Ulrik Mortensen
violin 1 Shunske Sato
violin 2 Anneke van der Haaften
viola Deirdre Dowling
Cello Lucia Swarts
double bass James Munro
director Lucas van Woerkum
assistant director Stijn Berkhouwer
music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
music edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera Jochem Timmerman, Martin Struijf, Thijs Struick
Lights Zen Bloot
set technique Dennis Hoek
Data handling Jesper Blok
project manager NEP Peter Ribbens
Interview Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
Producer concert Marco Meijdam
producer film Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts




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