Bach most likely composed his Concerto for Four Harpsichords in A minor (BWV 1065) around 1730-1733, when he was enjoying his tenure as director of the popular Collegium Musicum in Leipzig. This music society, founded by Telemann, was made up of both talented students and professionals. The performances were held at Zimmermann’s Coffee House.
Bach adapted this concerto from Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins and String Orchestra in B minor. It represents yet another example of Bach’s repurposing works by other popular composers of the day.
If time travel becomes an option in my lifetime, I’ll elect to travel back to the premiere of this concerto at Zimmermann’s. The visual spectacle of four harpsichords (probably played by Bach and his sons!) and a small string orchestra in a causal setting, combined with the aural perfection of Bach’s music, would be well worth the trip!
Try to imagine that scene as you listen to the opening allegro of this concerto here. It features The English Concert and harpsichordists Trevor Pinnock, Kenneth Gilbert, Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Nicholas Kraemer.