In 1941, choreographer George Balanchine set Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Two Violins (BWV 1043) to a ballet which became known as Concerto Barocco. The work was premiered in Rio de Janeiro during American Ballet Caravan’s South American tour. In 1948, the ballet had its New York premiere as part of the inaugural program of the New York City Ballet.
Balanchine understood Bach. In the first movement of Concerto Barocco, the two lead dancers personify the roles of the two violin soloists.
I’ll never forget the live performance of this ballet I enjoyed many years ago during New York City Ballet’s summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. While the orchestra performed from the pit, the two violin soloists prominently played their parts on stage. Balanchine never let his audiences forget that without great music (and great musicians), there would be no dance!
Enjoy this short video clip here.