J.S. Bach Harpsichord Concerto in D minor BWV 1052


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750) wrote some of the concertos for keyboard and strings. He wrote seven for solo keyboard and strings and wrote others for 2, 3 and 4 harpsichords. All of the solo concertos are transcriptions of Bach's own concertos for solo melody instrument such as violin. In many cases it is only the harpsichord transcription that survives complete. The D minor concerto, BWV 1052,  seems Bach use the same music for strings as in the original violin concerto while the solo part is filled out harmonically from the solo violin part of the original. Bach obviously strove to make the keyboard version as virtuosic as the violin version. Bach was familiar with his contemporary Vivaldi's concertos and they exerted a large influence on Bach's concerto style.


The concerto is in three movements: 

1.     Allegro - Written in ritornello form, which simply put, has the orchestra play a recurring passage after the solo instrument develops fragments of the passage. This dialogue between orchestra and soloist continues, with each repetition of the original passage whole or in part being in a different key and the soloist expanding the passage  until the piece ends with orchestra and soloist playing the original passage in the home key.  

2.     Adagio - A very expressive movement, the right hand of the soloist plays the melody of the original violin version that Bach has masterfully transformed to the full harmony and texture of the harpsichord while the left hand plays with the string accompaniment.

 3.     Allegro - This movement is also in ritornello form and is thematically related to the first movement. 


Comparing Bach's another harpsichord concerto No.8  in d minor, BWV 1059, there are many similarities and differences. For No.8, it is an incomplete piece. only 9 bars survived. Like nearly all of Bach's harpsichord concertos, this is and adaptation of a concerto written for an oboe and the melody parts taken from his cantata. The first movement is marked as Allegro. The second movement, like the No.1, is a very expressive Adagio and the last movement is Presto. 


For me, as a piano major students, I always love Bach's music, especially his keyboard works. Bach produces a pece perfectly designed for harpsichord. Even if the harpsichord has had its time, it certainly isn't forgotten because of this greatness of compositions made for its amazing dynamics and unique tone. 

Works CitedEdit

Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V, Oalisca. A History of Western Music. Eighth Edition. (W.W. Norton and Campany, New York, New Yorl). 2010.

Johann Sebastian Bach Harpsichord Concerto in D minor BWV 1052. Accessed March 21, 2014.

“J.S. Bach Harpsichord Concerto in D minor BWV 1052” Youtube Video. Uploaded Dec 11, 2010. Posted by “Deadlockcp.” Accessed March 21, 2014. [[1]]Edit