Violin Concerto in D minor

Violin Concerto in D minor

BWV 1052r performed by Shunske Sato and the Netherlands Bach Society
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

  • 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, Bach adapted easily to his circumstances, just like the Dutch masters in the Gallery of Honour in the Rijksmuseum. No matter whether the customer wants a flamboyant painting of the civic guard, a mildly erotic biblical scene or an intimate still life, a craftsman always delivers to order – to those who can pay. Likewise the practical Bach, who 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 146 and 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 texs




  • Release date
    12 July 2019
  • Recording date
    11 May 2018
  • Location
    Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
  • Harpsichordist
    Johannes Ruckers, 1640
  • Violin and direction
    Shunske Sato
  • Violin 1
    Anneke van Haaften
  • Violin 2
    Lucia Giraudo
  • Viola
    Femke Huizinga
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Double bass
    James Munro
  • Harpsichordist
    Richard Egarr
  • Director and editor
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Ramon de Boer, Tim van der Voort, Bart Krimp
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot, Henry Rodgers
  • Camera-assistant/grip
    Robin Noort
  • Assistant director
    Ferenc Soeteman
  • Set technique
    Alex de Gier
  • Data handling
    Kira Falticeau
  • Project manager videobrix
    Peter Hazenberg
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
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