Menuet from 'Brandenburg' Concerto No. 1 in F major

Menuet from 'Brandenburg' Concerto No. 1 in F major

Menuet from BWV 1046 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Shunske Sato
TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

A fascinating minuet

Religious expression, experimental urge or party music?

The 'Brandenburg' concertos have a delightful and fascinating effect, while raising questions at the same time. In writing them, Bach joined in with an Italian rage – the concerto – while always giving his own twist to them. Right from the start, 'Brandenburg' concerto no. 1, and particularly the minuet from it, is a good example of this. In this recording for All of Bach, you hear only the minuet. It was preceded by three movements – quick – slow – quick, in the traditional order of concertos like those written by Vivaldi. But then Bach adds a minuet. And what a minuet it is!

At the start, nothing seems out of the ordinary: an elegant orchestral piece as a diversion after a serious movement. Followed by a second section (trio) for three wind instruments, as already done by the Italian composer Jean-Baptiste Lully. But after the repetition of the first section, all of a sudden comes a polonaise. And then, following another repeat of the main theme, there is a fanfare from two hunting horns. After that, we hear the first section for the last time. The minuet, with its unusual turnings, is almost twice as long as any of the other three movements of 'Brandenburg' concerto No. 1.

What did Bach intend by this minuet? Was it an experiment, in which he demonstrated his artistic freedom? Or taking a theological approach, maybe the deeply religious Bach wanted to represent the hereafter, without earthly laws and agreements, in music that pushed back the boundaries. Or was Bach simply doing what his boss asked of him? In his day, concertos were often intended as table music for a lavish banquet. So maybe Bach’s patron, the Margrave of Brandenburg, simply wanted festive music to accompany the dessert.

Brandenburg concertos, BWV 1046-1051
In March 1721, Bach sent a manuscript from Köthen to Berlin entitled ‘Six concertos with several instruments’ (Six concerts avec plusieurs instruments), dedicated to Christian Ludwig (1677-1734), Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt. In the preface, Bach stated that he had played for the margrave ‘a couple of years ago’ and had promised to send him ‘some of his compositions’. That was probably during a visit to Berlin in March 1719, when Bach had travelled to the Prussian capital to take receipt of a new harpsichord for the court in Köthen. The music that he sent to the margrave a couple of years later (which subsequently became known as the 'Brandenburg' Concertos) was Bach’s ultimate view of the most important large-scale instrumental genre of his day: the concerto.

A concerto nearly always involves a solo instrument (or combination of solo instruments) and an ensemble. The key idea is the alternation between one or more soloists and the whole ensemble, in a sort of light-hearted competition. In the six 'Brandenburg' Concertos, Bach explores every facet of this genre, with regard to both instrumentation and the way in which he handles the form. All the traditionally used string and wind instruments and the harpsichord appear as soloists, the musical forms range from court dances to near-fugues, and the relationship between the solos and tutti instruments is always shifting. Together, the six concertos thus form a virtuoso sample sheet of the Baroque concerto.

Minuet from Concerto in F major
Minuet from ‘Brandenburg’ concerto No. 1
orchestral works
Brandenburg concertos
Köthen (but possibly earlier in Weimar)
Dedicated in 1721 to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg

Extra videos

Musicians on Brandenburg concertos

“In the Brandenburg concertos there's a certain equality between the strings, brass, winds. Everyone has a very important role to play.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    9 March 2023
  • Recording date
    2 October 2018
  • Location
    TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht
  • Violin and direction
    Shunske Sato
  • Violin 1
    Sayuri Yamagata
  • Violin 2
    Anneke van Haaften
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Oboe
    Emma Black, Pedro Castro, Yongcheon Shin
  • Horn
    Gijs Laceulle, Teunis van der Zwart
  • Bassoon
    Eyal Streett
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Director and editor
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Robert Berger, Nina Badoux, Joas Burggraaf, Jasper Gheluwe
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot
  • Assistant director
    Stijn Berkhouwer
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Set technique
    Alex de Gier
  • Project manager videobrix
    Peter Hazenberg
  • Producer concert
    Marco Meijdam
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh

Help us to complete All of Bach

There are still many recordings to be made before the whole of Bach’s oeuvre is online. And we can’t complete the task without the financial support of our patrons. Please help us to complete the musical heritage of Bach, by supporting us with a donation!