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Bach Harpsichord Concertos Program Notes and Sheet Music

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Date of Composition: 1717-1731

Instrumentation: Harpsichord, strings, and continuo

Duration: Approximately 30 minutes


Bach's harpsichord concertos are some of his most famous and beloved works. They are a showcase for his mastery of counterpoint, orchestration, and melody.

The concertos were written during Bach's tenure as cantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig. They were originally written for solo harpsichord and a small ensemble of strings and continuo. However, they are often performed today with a larger orchestra.

The concertos are typically in three movements:

  • Allegro: The first movement is usually in a fast tempo and is characterized by its lively melodies and rhythms.
  • Adagio: The second movement is usually in a slower tempo and is characterized by its expressive melodies and harmonies.
  • Presto: The third movement is usually in a fast tempo and is characterized by its virtuosic melodies and rhythms.


Bach's harpsichord concertos are a masterclass in counterpoint. Counterpoint is a musical technique in which two or more melodies are played simultaneously in a way that creates harmony and interest. Bach's concertos are full of complex and intricate counterpoint, which is one of the things that makes them so challenging and rewarding to listen to.

The concertos are also notable for their use of orchestration. Bach used a variety of instruments to create a rich and vibrant sound. The strings, for example, are used to create a warm and lyrical sound, while the continuo is used to create a driving and rhythmic sound.


Bach's harpsichord concertos have been praised by critics and musicians alike. They are considered to be some of the most beautiful and challenging works of Baroque music. The concertos are often performed by harpsichordists around the world and are a popular choice for recitals and competitions.

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