One reason many people are familiar with this adagio is that it appears in the movie ‘Fifty shades of Grey’… It’s Johann Sebastian BACH: Adagio, which is one of the most beautiful Adagios of the baroque period. It comes from “Bach: Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974”, which is one of a total of 16 arrangements of Italian instrumental concertos for harpsichord solo. Bach made around 1713.
When you think of Bach, say his Cello suites, you have to consider that most of his music wasn’t ‘popular’ when he wrote it. He was employed as ‘Composer’ at an estate. Most of his music, he wrote for himself, played for himself, in a small chamber in the castle… 300 years ago. He wrote hundreds of pieces for organ, choir, as well as many other instruments. He spent most of his life as a church organist and a choir director. His music combines profound expression with clever musico-mathematical feats, like fugues and canons in which the same melody is played against itself in various ways.
Bach Adagio on piano
In the video below, Piano arrangement of Bach’s 2nd Movement “Adagio” from his “Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974”. Bach’s concerto is an arrangement of “Concerto for Oboe and Strings in D minor” by Baroque composer Alessandro Marcello, So It’s Marcello from Venice, and then again, it’s Bach… Marcello (1669 – 1747) composed the original Oboe concerto in the early 18th century, Bach (1675-1750) re-wrote it after Marcello.
Alessandro Marcello was a baroque Italian composer who knew how to write a good melody. None other than The great composer Johann Sebastian Bach was a big fan of Marcello. Bach liked Marcello’s most famous concerto for oboe and strings, which is one of the most performed oboe concertos in the repertory, so he transposed it into a very “emotional” piece considering his style.