Violin Concerto for D minor

Violin Concerto for D minor

BWV 1052r performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Shunske Sato
Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden

  • Menu
  • 1. Allegro
  • 2. Adagio
  • 3. Allegro

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

The many lives of a masterpiece

Back in time to the source of a harpsichord concerto

Just imagine Bach’s excitement when Vivaldi’s famous violin concertos eventually reached Thüringen. As a violinist himself, and apparently one of the better ones, he must intuitively have recognised the potential of the fashionable genre. He decided to experiment with it himself and to astonish people. This violin marvel – the Violin Concerto in D minor – immediately became such a technical challenge that few soloists were able to tackle it. Too few, probably, as not a shred of it has survived. The concerto played here is a modern reconstruction, based on a harpsichord concerto written much later by Bach, but which is presumed to originate from a violin concerto. Maybe Bach’s children and students, who were keyboard players, had no interest in an ‘unplayable’ violin piece.

Always up-to-the-minute, the practicl Bach adapted easily to his circumstances and sometimes rewrote successes from the past, if possible. Ideas abound as to how a challenging violin concerto became a harpsichord concerto. What first springs to mind might be the Leipziger Collegium Musicum, where Bach often played harpsichord solos, or maybe a visit to Dresden, where he undoubtedly wanted to make a musical impression. Musicologist Christoph Wolff suspects there was also an organ version, which Bach may have played in Dresden, in 1724. This could explain how some parts of this concerto turn up a few years later in cantatas BWV 146 and BWV 188. And there are even those who voice the opinion that the arrangement (or even the work itself) is not by Bach’s hand!

Whatever the case, Bach was clearly proud of this music. The final keyboard version from 1738, which survives in a score written by Bach himself, opens a set of concertos. This manuscript follows the same lines as all the keyboard collections compiled by Bach in the autumn of his life. They were intended to preserve his work for posterity and may also have been made with the market in mind.

Violin Concerto in D minor (reconstruction)
orchestral works
Special notes
This is a reconstruction of the presumed original form of the harpsichord concerto in D minor, BWV 1052. Bach also used the first and second movement of this concerto in the cantata Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal, BWV 146.

Extra videos

Shunske Sato

“I'm forced to concede Bach was pretty outrageous.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    13 April 2023
  • Recording date
    6 December 2019
  • Location
    Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden
  • Violin and direction
    Shunske Sato
  • Violin 1
    Anneke van Haaften
  • Violin 2
    Pieter Affourtit
  • Viola
    Manuel Visser
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Double bass
    Hen Goldsobel
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Director
    Gerbrand van Oudenaarden
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Alex de Waal, Dagmar Scheeres, Martin van den Brink
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot
  • Assistant director
    Ferenc Soeteman
  • Video editing
    Bas Wielenga
  • Shading
    Wouter van Teerling
  • Technical assistance
    Mart van Bree
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh

Violin Concerto in D minor

Two versions of the Violin Concerto in D minor have been recorded for All of Bach. You can view both recordings here.

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