Violin concerto in A minor

Violin concerto in A minor

BWV 1041 performed by Shunske Sato
and the Netherlands Bach Society
Radio Kootwijk

  • Menu
  • 1. [...]
  • 2. Andante
  • 3. Allegro assai

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

The supreme violin concerto

This is just about the first concerto you encounter as a talented violinist

Many listeners will recognise this Violin Concerto in A minor immediately, and even identify it with a specific violinist. In contrast to many of Bach’s other works, it never disappeared completely from the repertoire. At the end of the eighteenth century, it was already circulating in Berlin, and it continued to do so. In December 1840, Felix Mendelssohn asked his sister Fanny in Berlin for copies of this concerto, in preparation for a series of ‘historical concerts’ with the Gewandhausorkest in Leipzig. In January 1841, she sent him the music. In the end, the work was not performed in the concert series, but on 19 January the concertmaster of the Gewandhausorkest, Ferdinand David (1810-1873), received the score as a gift from Mendelssohn (the manuscript is now in the United States).

Mendelssohn started these concerts of ‘early music’ in 1838, but he was not the first to do so. The conductor Peter Joseph von Lindpaintner (1791-1856) did the same in Stuttgart, as early as 1824. A second series took place in 1838, in response to Mendelssohn’s concerts. For instance, Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor was performed in Stuttgart on 4 December by the outstanding violinist Bernhard Molique (1802-1869). The music was printed for the first time in 1852, followed by new performances. On 31 March 1860, Bach’s birthday, Julius Eichberg (1824-1893) played the concerto for the first time in the United States. One critic regretted the choice, writing “Bach’s concerto may be learned, but it is very heavy and uninspired”. It was regrettable that such a good violinist as Eichberg selected to play “some antiquated compositions which have little beside antiquity to commend them”.

In April 1945, in the darkest days of the war, the long-standing Nazi opponent Adolf Busch (1891-1952) made a moving recording of the concerto in a former German beer hall (!) in New York, by which he seems to have wanted to save Bach from the hands of the Nazis. And thus each violinist and each generation puts their own stamp on the concerto. “This concerto is just about the first one you encounter, as a young talented violinist”, says artistic director and concertmaster of the Bach Society, Shunske Sato. “It’s a long time since this music was first placed on my stand. In recent years, thanks to historically informed performance practices, the concerto has burrowed deeper into my soul – it has become bigger and more important. I’ve grown to understand Bach’s idiom better and developed an instinct for his music”.

Concerto in A minor
orchestral works
ca. 1720?

With support from

Eleven Floawers Foundation

Extra videos

Shunske Sato and Pieter Affourtit

“What are the differences between the modern and Baroque violin and bow?”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    18 March 2021
  • Recording date
    16 May 2019
  • Location
    Radio Kootwijk
  • Violin and direction
    Shunske Sato
  • Violin 1
    Pieter Affourtit
  • Violin 2
    Lidewij van der Voort
  • Viola
    Femke Huizinga
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Director
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee, Lucas van Eck
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Gijs Besseling, Onno van Ameijde, Nina Badoux
  • Camera assistant and data handling
    Indra Besenbun
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot, Henry Rodgers, Fiona Verkleij
  • Assistant director
    Ferenc Soeteman
  • Video editing
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With support from
    Eleven Floawers Foundation

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