Air on the G String
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote his four orchestral suites in Leipzig. The Third Suite, in D major, was probably premiered at one of Bach’s Collegium Musicum concerts at Zimmermann’s Coffee House in 1730 or 1731. A century and a half later, the German violinist August Wilhelmj arranged the Suite’s second movement, a serenely floating Air, for solo violin and strings (or keyboard). He transposed it down to C major, and marked the solo part “auf der G-Saite” (on the G-string, as a passionately expressive tour-de-force), inadvertently giving it the name it has endured popularly ever since. This was also reportedly the first work by Bach ever recorded, and by a cellist – Aleksandr Verzhbilovich – in 1902.