Italian Concerto

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The "Italian" Concerto (or, Concerto in the Italian style) is a piece of music for harpsichord composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was published in 1735 with the French Overture in the second volume of Bach's Keyboard Practice. Both pieces are Bach's interpretations of popular musical forms of the day. The Italian Concerto is a three-movement composition written specifically for a two-manual harpsichord (see image).

The first movement is written in F major. It has a time signature of 2/4, but lacks a tempo marking. It is always played Allegro (fast). The second movement is written in D minor. Its time signature is 3/4, and its tempo marking is Andante (slow). The third movement is written in F major. Its time signature is cut-time (2/2), and its tempo is marked Presto (very fast). The first and third movements are composed in ritornello style. This means a theme particular to the movement returns time and again. The second movement is a very florid arioso-like piece.

An orchestral Italian concerto relies upon contrasts between the full orchestra and a small group of instruments which act as soloists. Bach achieves this effect by using the lower manual on the harpsichord as the "full orchestra" and the upper manual as the "small group of instruments".

References[change | change source]

  • Woodstra, Chris, et. al. 2005. All Music Guide to Classical Music. All Media Guide, LLC. pp. 45–46. ISBN 978-087930-865-0.