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Johann Sebastian Bach:
The Story of the Brandenburg Concertos

When Johann Sebastian Bach sent a set of six concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg -- a German official -- the Margrave probably never even looked at the music. Bach called his pieces "concertos for a variety of instruments," because each one calls for a different instrumental combination.

Music heard in this episode:
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, third movement
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, first movement
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, third movement
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, first movement, third movement
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, first movement

Other shows about Johann Sebastian Bach:
About Johann Sebastian Bach
The Sons of Johann Sebastian Bach
What's a Concerto?

Download this month's activity sheet

About Johann Sebastian Bach
3/21/1685 - 7/28/1750
Born in Germany

Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany, where his father was a town musician. Bach came from a long line of composers - over 300 years' worth of Bachs all worked as professional musicians. By the time Johann was 10, both his parents had died, so he was brought up by his older brother, who was a church organist. Johann became a very good organist, too.

Johann Sebastian Bach held three major jobs in his life: first he worked for a duke, then for a prince, and finally, he became director of music at the St. Thomas Church and School in Leipzig, Germany. Even though his job in Leipzig kept him very busy, in his spare time, Bach conducted a group of musicians who liked to get together to perform at a local coffee house.

During his lifetime, people thought of Bach as just an ordinary working musician. No one really knew much about his music until 100 years after his death, when another composer, Felix Mendelssohn, conducted a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion.

Bach is now seen as one of the greatest geniuses in music history. He wrote all kinds of music -- for organ and other keyboard instruments, orchestras, choirs, and concertos for many different instrumental combinations.

See other composers born in Germany


This Week's Quiz:

1. How many Brandenburg Concertos did J. S. Bach write?





2.Which instrument is NOT heard in the Brandenburg Concertos?





3. A harpsichord sounds different from a piano because

its strings are plucked by tiny quills

small hammers hit its strings

its strings are strummed like a guitar or harp


Johann Sebastian Bach
Brandenburg Concerto # 2

Composed in 1721
Performed by Capella Istropolitana
Bohdan Warchal, conductor

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