Monday, May 20, 2013

Birthday Bach

I feel it is a fair assumption that most of my readers know that Johann Sebastian Bach is well-known for his organ compositions (not to mention considerable personal talent in organ-playing).

What is probably not nearly as well known is that Antonio Vivaldi, much better known for his prodigious number of concerti for various strings, wrote a few organ concerti of his own (no more than thirteen are known if you count every work that includes an organ, of which two are incomplete and one is of doubtful authenticity).

That one of doubtful authenticity, labeled RV 542, Organ Concerto in F, I've had in my musical collection for about a year now (along with five other organ works of Vivaldi). In the third movement, an Allegro, it contains a very interesting solo organ passage that lasts for 3 minutes and 36 seconds (half the length of the entire movement), during which the organ is the only instrument playing. This is very unusual for Vivaldi who in my experience never has single instruments playing for more than a few seconds, which may lend some credence to the idea that the piece had a different author. That notwithstanding it's a beautiful organ solo and one of my favorites parts of any of his organ concerti.

Anyway, my dear aunt got me a collection of five of Bach's organ concerti for my birthday on Friday, and while listening to them I made a remarkable discovery: in the third movement (also an Allegro) of Bach's organ concerto BWV 594 in C major, I found the exact same organ solo! It's slightly shorter in this version at 3 minutes 23 seconds (it has a slightly faster tempo), but is unmistakably the same section.

Interestingly, while looking up BWV 594 on Wikipedia, it came with a note saying "after Antonio Vivaldi," but listing another of his concerti: a concerto for violin in Opus 7, RV208. Two of the other Bach organ concerti in the set I got were likewise listed as borrowing from two different Vivaldi concerti from his Opus 3. Since I don't have either his Opuses 3 or 7, this suggests an avenue for continued research in the future.


  1. Happy belated birthday, Mr. Daniel Andrew Berke! God bless you and remain awesome!

    You're such an interesting and balanced person! Fancy too, for listening to concerti and opuses.

  2. Thanks Jon! I'm glad to know you're still enjoying my blog. I still check yours from time to time.

    And I make no pretensions to being fancy, I simply like what I like. =)

    1. I know you're not being pretentious. I know you genuinely love and enjoy them. Sometimes I miss your muffled whistling in my room. Haha.


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