Skip to page content


Listen to audio:

About this Piece

Whereas Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote the Brandenburg Concertos for a prince, he composed his four Orchestral Suites for the wealthy burghers of Leipzig. The Suite No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069, most likely premiered at Zimmermann's Coffee House either in 1730 or 1731 at one of the composer's Collegium Musicum concerts there. Bach had assumed responsibility for the concerts in 1729, and the programs required him to renew his efforts in the field of instrumental composition. (Since taking up his position at St. Thomas' in 1723, Bach's primary responsibility had been vocal religious music for services there and in Leipzig's other churches.)

The Suite No. 4 opens with an imposing French overture, so called because of its slow-fast-slow structure and the rhythm of its opening. All four of the Suites are French in style, and this one - with the largest orchestra - most emphatically so. A group of French dances follows, ending with a festive Réjouissance (Celebration), in which timpani and trumpets bring the work to a spirited close.

-- Lawyer and lutenist Howard Posner is a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Philharmonic's program book.