BWV 592

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Concerto in G major

BWV 592 performed by Leo van Doeselaar
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

"Bach arranged a simple piece composed by his employer and turned it into something special."

Tribute to a talented composer who died young

Bach transcribed string concerts in order to practice a new genre

The Concerto in G major is one of a group of five concerto transcriptions made by Bach in Weimar around 1713. Compositions by Vivaldi served as examples for three of these transcriptions. The original on which this concerto is based was written by Prince Johann Ernst. This young nephew of Bach’s employer in Weimar, who was a promising violinist and composer, lived in the Netherlands for a while. When Vivaldi’s revolutionary volume of string concertos, L’estro armonico, was published in Amsterdam in 1711, Johann Ernst immediately set to work on writing concertos as well. Although Bach was also fascinated by this new Italian genre, he took a different approach. He started by making transcriptions, presumably to get to grips with the finer points first. Maybe it would have been better for the young prince to do likewise, as Bach made considerably more ‘corrections’ and improvements to his composition than he did to Vivaldi’s concertos.

Nevertheless, it is a piece to be reckoned with. The first movement exudes such overwhelming joy that it brings tears to your eyes. The simple little motifs of the solo and tutti parts are played on various keyboards always a step higher, until they reach the highest regions. It is one-dimensional in the very best sense of the word. As a contemplative counterpart, the middle movement is dominated by a rather mysterious, legato rhythm. In the final movement, the same overwhelming youthful exuberance returns again.

The prince died in 1715, when he was only eighteen years old. We can only guess at what he might have produced had he lived. But the fact that Bach recognised his talent and did not think himself above revealing the potential of this boy’s work speaks volumes.


Concerto in G major

organ work (concerto)

ca. 1713


Special notes/reuse
After a concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo by Prince Johann Ernst von Saksen-Weimar.

Cast & Crew

release date 13 March 2015
recording date 23 June 2014
LOCATION Walloon Church, Amsterdam
ORGANIST Leo van Doeselaar
Organ Christian Müller, 1734
PRODUCER Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Jan Van den Bossche
DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY Sal Kroonenberg, Ruben van den Broeke
Grip Antoine Petiet
FILM EDITOR Dylan Glyn Jones
COLORIST Jef Grosfeld
PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS Marco Meijdam, Zoë de Wilde

Vocal Texts




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