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Bach and the Royal Bet on a Six-Voice Fugue - NOSPR

Bach and the Royal Bet on a Six-Voice Fugue

Seats
Tickets: 40-50 zł
Laurenz A. Reinitzer
Performers
Georges Barthel – flute
Mechthild Karkow – violin
Tomasz Pokrzywiński – cello
Marcin Świątkiewicz – harpsichord
Program
Johann Sebastian Bach
Das Musikalische Opfer BWV 1079

Das Musikalisches Opfer is one of the last works by Johann Sebastian Bach, dedicated to the Prussian king Frederick II. It contains a cycle of remarkably intricate and complex canons and fugues. In its initial edition, it didn't even have a specific arrangement, as it was published on separate sheets without a coherent index. The composer referred to the entire work using the old term "ricercar," and on July 7, 1747, he wrote to the king: 

"I dedicate to Your Royal Majesty with the deepest devotion this musical offering, the noblest part of which proceeds from Your own gracious hand. I recall with full reverence and joy Your royal favor when, during my recent presence in Potsdam, Your Royal Majesty was pleased to perform personally on the keyboard the theme for a fugue, obliging me most kindly to execute a fugue on it in Your highest presence." 

This "recent presence in Potsdam" occurred two months earlier, on May 7, when Bach visited the court of the King along with his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who served as a harpsichordist there. King Frederick II himself was a well-educated musician, a flutist, and a composer. He played a theme of his own invention, requesting an improvised six-voice fugue on his theme. Bach improvised on the given theme but couldn't instantly create the desired six-voice fugue as the monarch wished. Therefore, he asked for time to compose a truly royal work, comprised of fugues, canons, and a sonata, written as titled for violin, transverse flute, and basso continuo. He tackled this task after returning to Leipzig. 

We don't know if Frederick II appreciated Bach's gift; nevertheless, Das Musikalisches Opfer remains one of the most significant works in the history of music.

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Concert duration: approximately 60 minutes

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