The Bach Air on The G String
The Bach Air on the G String has nothing to do with either breathing or ladies undergarments.
Here is a performance of J.S. Bach’s original orchestral version played on 18th Century-style instruments. There is not a thong in sight:
J.S. Bach and The Air on the G String
J.S. Bach (1685-1750) was probably the greatest composer who ever lived. He wrote over a thousand pieces that we know of and a very high percentage of these — like The Air on the G String — are true masterpieces. It is interesting to note that, even with over a thousand compositions of Bach’s that have survived, many more have been lost over time.
It is not unusual for famous compositions like The Air on the G String to acquire fanciful new names never intended by their composer. J.S.Bach never called this piece “Air on the G String”. He wrote it about 1720 as the second movement, Aria, from the third of his four Orchestral Suites which is how it is performed in the above video.
In J.S. Bach’s day, the terms aria and air were simply used to denote a melodic, song-like piece in contrast to the many dances and marches that were written at the time.
An New Arrangement and a New Name
All through the 19th century there was a movement begun by Felix Mendelssohn to popularize the music of J.S. Bach with the general public. Composers and academic musicians had long appreciated J.S. Bach but Mendelssohn and others wanted to bring this great music to a wider audience.
Among these fans of J.S. Bach was the German violinist August Emil Daniel Ferdinand Wilhelmj (1845-1908) who arranged the Bach Aria from the Orchestral Suite for solo violin and piano (the Air starts after interview at 3:32):
In arranging the Aria for solo violin, Wilhelmj changed the key from D to C so that the exquisite melody could be played on one string. Hence the new name Air on the G String.
Wihlemj arrangement of the Bach Air on the G String became very popular. In fact, this was the very first piece by J.S. Bach to be recorded during the early years of sound recording. It was recorded in 1902 by the Russian cellist Aleksandr Verzhbilovich and an unknown pianist as the Air from the Overture No. 3 in D major.
The Bach Air on the G String and Your Wedding Music
Such a beautiful melody should be on any list of Wedding Music.
Because of its slow, thoughtful pace it should be used as one of the Preludes before the Ceremony. If there is a Unity Ceremony during the Wedding service, and you need quiet music for a minute or two, the J.S. Bach Air on the G String is a perfect choice.
It can be played on either piano…
Patrick Byrne, Piano
I would love to work with you to help make your own Wedding or special event a truly beautiful experience for your family and friends.
For more information please go to my main Wedding Music page.