Bach Brandenburg Letter

May 11, 2017

I’d like to read you part of an interesting job application letter. It was originally in French:

“My Lord, As I had the honor of playing before Your Royal Highness… and as I observed that You took some pleasure in the small talent that heaven has given me for music, and [as] You honoured me with a command to send You some pieces of my composition, I now…take the liberty of presenting [you] with the present concertos… humbly praying You not to judge their imperfections by the severity of the fine and delicate taste that every one knows You to have for music …”


The letter—sent in the spring of 1721—was addressed to the Margrave of Brandenburg, and it was signed by Jean Sebastian Bach.  Was the humility genuine? Who knows. And Bach didn’t get the job. But it’s certain that today the only reason anyone remembers the Margrave of Brandenburg is that his name became attached to six concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.