Flute Sonata in A major

Flute Sonata in A major

BWV 1032 performed by Marten Root and Menno van Delft
Mauritshuis, The Hague

  • Menu
  • 1. Vivace
  • 2. Largo e dolce
  • 3. Allegro

Behind the music


Eventful past

Despite fire and lost pages, this sonata is now performed in the Golden Room

Although it appears fairly straightforward – eighteenth-century music in an eighteenth-century room – both Bach’s Flute Sonata in A major and the ‘Golden Room’ of the Mauritshuis in The Hague have an eventful past. They were both subject to destruction, disappearance, reconstruction and comeback.

Along with the rest of the interior of the seventeenth-century Mauritshuis, the Grote Benedenzaal (big downstairs salon) was burnt down in 1704. Afterwards, the room and its baroque woodcarvings, gilding and paintings was gradually restored to glory. But even after the restoration, it looked totally different to nowadays: (the Mauritshuis made a digital reconstruction of how it looked originally).

Bach’s Flute Sonata in A major also has a complicated past. Bach notated the work himself on a series of remaining empty staves at the bottom of pages of a piece of music he had written earlier. Later on, pages were lost from the manuscript, along with many bars from the first movement. So here, too, reconstruction was necessary. The sonata as a whole was probably also a ‘reconstruction’ of an earlier work. Notes made on the manuscript suggest that it was preceded by another version – probably a ‘real’ trio sonata for recorder, violin and basso continuo.

The manuscript of this flute sonata was acquired by the Royal Library in Berlin in the nineteenth century. In 1941, along with many other treasures from the library, it was rehoused for safety reasons in what is nowadays Poland. It stayed there after World War II and disappeared from view. It was returned to Berlin only in 1977, along with five other important music manuscripts.

The Mauritshuis took preventive measures as well. In 1939, the basement was turned into a bomb-proof space. But nevertheless – just as in Berlin – many highlights of the collection were kept safely elsewhere during the war. For example, Paulus Potter’s famous bull, which looks at us towards the end of the sonata, spent the latter years of the war in an art bunker in the St Pietersberg hill, in Maastricht.

Sonata for harpsichord and traverso in A major
harpsichord, traverso
chamber music
Special notes
The manuscript dates from 1736, but there is an earlier, simpler version of the middle movement in an earlier manuscript.

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Extra videos

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    4 February 2021
  • Recording date
    22 May 2020
  • Location
    Mauritshuis, The Hague
  • Flautist
    Marten Root
  • Harpsichordist
    Menno van Delft
  • Traverso
    Fridtjof Aurin after Pierre Naust, ca. 1700
  • Harpsichord
    Bernd Fischer, 1984 after Claude Labrèche
  • Director and editor
    Gijs Besseling
  • Music recording
    Daan van Aalst, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera, lights
    Danny Noordanus
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • Acknowledgement
  • With support from

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