Return to Homepage

On-line Book Review


Dimension: 19.0 x 12.4 x 1.2 cm
TITLE Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Brandenburgischen Konzerte von Peter Schleuning
PUBL. DETAILS Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag, 2003. 196p; Paperback. Eur 12.90.
ISBN 3-7618-1491-7
TO ORDER Bärenreiter-Verlag, Heinrich-Schütz-Allee 35, D-34131 Kassel, Germany.
DESCRIPTION an up-to-date monograph of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.
WORKS COVERED BWV 12, 18, 21, 52, 106, 174, 201, 207-8, 212, 244-5, 248, 540, 846-93, 1046-51
READERSHIP music lovers, performers and students studying the Brandenburg Concertos
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION most up-to-date monograph of this celebrated work at the moment.

ärenreiter’s Werkeinführungen series is well known for rich contents in affordable, pocket-size format, and this book by Schleuning is not an exception. As being a pocket guide, it is inevitable that it will be compared and judged against the monograph of similar size by Malcolm Boyd (Cambridge, 1993).

Contents in brief 


Stationen der Forschung

Die Widmung



Konzert I · F-Dur

Die Frühfassung: Eine Kantatenouvertüre?

Entstehung und Funktion der Frühfassung: Eine Jagd-Musik?

Satz 1: Allegro

Satz 2: Adagio

Satz 3: Allegro


Satz 4: Menuett -- Trio I -- Polonaise -- Trio II


Konzert II  · F-Dur

Satz 2: Andante

Satz 1: Allegro

Satz 3: Allegro assai

Semantik: Eine Ballettmusik?

Rezeption: Wie der Schlusssatz Schule machte


Konzert III · G-Dur

Besetzung: 3 mal 3 plus 1

Satz 1: Allegro

Zwei Adagio-Akkorde

Satz 3: Allegro

Semantik: Toben -- Staunen -- Rasen


Konzert IV · G-Dur

Satz 1: Allegro

Satz 2: Andante

Satz 3: Presto

Beethoven und das IV. Brandenburgische Konzert


Konzert V · D-Dur

Satz 1: Allegro

Motivverbindungen zwischen den Sätzen

Satz 2: Affettuoso

Satz 3: Allegro

Goethe und das V. Brandenburgische Konzert


Konzert VI · B-Dur

Philologie: Was teilen die Handschriften mit?

Stilkritik: Wie wurde komponiert?

Semantik: Was bedeutet die Musik?





Anmerkungen; Literatur; Personenregister; Sachregister

comprehensive discussion of the individual movements

To start with, it has to be said that Schleuning has the clear advantage of having 10-years of advancement in research. In fact, I was immediately struck by the first section ‘Stationen der Forschung’ in which the author outlines the changing focuses of the recent Bach scholarship in the last fifty years or so: here he identifies four phases in which the origin of the Brandenburg Concertos has been debated --- firstly Köthen (mainly by Smend and Besseler), then Weimar (argued by Krey and Geck), again Weimar (by Wolff), then back to Köthen (by Rampe and Sackmann). As far as I know there are as many as sixty papers, articles, books and dissertations on the Brandenburg Concertos that appeared since 1990, and many of them actually discusses the origin of the work, particularly concentrating on the stylistic issues in the selected movements of the work. Schleuning’s concise summary of account seems fair and very helpful to students and scholars alike.

The remaining portion of the introduction briefly covers two of the oft-discussed materials, namely the dedication and the reception history of the work. Unlike Boyd, Schleuning does not ponder upon such specific musical features as instrumentations and ritornello structure, but goes straight into the discussion of individual concertos where he expands all the essential features he sees therein, often in greater details. So when used as a study guide of a specific concerto, Schleuning’s comprehensive approach will surely be user friendly. The abundant use of music examples, charts and tables, likewise, helps his readers to follow his discussion.

Of six concertos, the most interesting reading, in my view, is that on no.6, followed by no.5, as they seem to reflect a number of important studies on these movements that appeared recently (most notable of which are those by Marissen). On the contrary, I still find Boyd better with regards to the treatment of the famous two-chord slow movement of no.3. But overall, if you are looking for a fairly comprehensive, textbook-like discussion of the individual movements of the Brandenburg Concertos, this will probably be the first book on the list at the moment.

Published online on 8 October 2003

Return to the previous page