"A Musical Offering" - Trio Sonata in C Minor for flute, violin and continuo from - Bach [HD]<< Previous classical music pieceNext classical music piece >>
The Musical Offering (German title: Musikalisches Opfer or Das Musikalische Opfer), BWV 1079, is a collection of canons and fugues and other pieces of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, all based on a single musical theme given to him by Frederick the Great (Frederick II of Prussia), to whom they are dedicated. The Ricercar a 6, a six-voice fugue which is the highpoint of the entire work, was put forward by the musicologist Charles Rosen as the most significant piano composition in history (partly because it is one of the first). This ricercar is also occasionally called the Prussian Fugue, a name used by Bach himself.
Apart from the trio sonata, which is written for flute, violin and basso continuo, the pieces have few indications of which instruments are meant to play them, although there is now significant support for the idea that they are for solo keyboard, like most of Bach's other published works.
The ricercars and canons have been realised in various ways. The ricercars are more frequently performed on keyboard than the canons, which are often played by an ensemble of chamber musicians, with instrumentation comparable to that of the trio sonata.
As the printed version gives the impression to be organised for (reduction of) page turning when sight-playing the score, the order of the pieces intended by Bach (if there was an intended order) remains uncertain, although it is customary to open the collection with the Ricercar a 3, and play the trio sonata toward the end. The Canones super Thema Regium are also usually played together.
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Performed by: Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Licensed by: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Music license: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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