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Work

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach Composer

Capriccio on the Departing of his Most Beloved Brother in Bb, BWV992

Performances: 32
Tracks: 150
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Musicology:
  • Capriccio on the Departing of his Most Beloved Brother in Bb, BWV992
    Key: Bb
    Year: c.1705
    Genre: Other Keyboard
    Pr. Instrument: Harpsichord
    • 1.Arioso (Adagio): Ist eine Schmeichelung der Freunde, um denselben von seiner Reise abzuhalten (His friends try to persuade him not to undertake the journey)
    • 2.Andante: Ist eine Vorstellung unterschiedlicher Casuum, die ihm in der Fremde konnten vorfallen (They tell him of the various misfortunes that may befall him abroad)
    • 3.Adagiosissimo: Ist ein allgemeines Lamento der Freunde (The general lament of his friends)
    • 4.Allhier kommen die Freunde (weil sie doch sehen, daß es sanders nicht sein kann) und nehmen Abschied (His friends come, since they see that it must be, and take leave of him)
    • 5.Allegro poco: Aria di Postiglione
    • 6.Fuga all' imitatione della cornetta di Postiglione
The Capriccio for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992, described by its composer J.S. Bach as a "Capriccio sopra la lontananza del fratello dilettissimo" (Capriccio on the departure [absence] of his most dear brother), is among the earliest surviving Bach keyboard works and was probably composed around the time of his brother Jacob's entrance into the service of King Charles XII of Sweden in 1704. It also boasts the distinction of being a unique example of Bach trying his hand at a programmatic, or at least semi-programmatic, kind of writing. Each of its six movements—some of which are substantial, others quite brief—is prefaced by a few words that describe its place in the collective drama of the brother departing.

In the opening "Arioso" (Adagio), a group of loving friends tries to talk the brother out of his journey and in the semi-fugal G minor second movement (no tempo marking, but clearly an Andante-type movement) they continue their efforts by describing all the various catastrophes that could befall him on his way. The third movement is a chaconne in which the repeating bass pattern is played 12 times in all, changing a little each time and growing more active as it goes; just one upper voice is notated, but Bach has provided some figured bass indications to fill out some of the texture. By the time one has reached the slender, 11-bar fourth movement the friends have resigned themselves to the fact of the brother's departure and bid him farewell as the music gropes its way back to the home key of B flat major, by way of some benign chromatic action. An "Aria di Postiglione" (Postilion's Aria; Adagio poco) fully partakes of this rich B flat major broth, and the Capriccio concludes with a fugue built from a brass fanfare-type subject.

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