Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Organ Transcriptions of Concertos
Today we know that the reason for this penetration of Italian musical tastes into the small principality of Weimar lay elsewhere: the passion of the young prince Johann Ernst of Saxony for the Venetian concertos (and those of Vivaldi in particular). During the prince’s long period of study in Amsterdam, he had occasion to enjoy the exhibitions on the organ in the local Nieuwe Kerk by the blind virtuoso Jan Jacob de Graaf. This organist was wont to transport to his own instrument works originally conceived for completely different forces, and his renditions were greeted with amazement and admiration from an ever-growing audience of listeners. His Most Serene Highness then requested Johann Sebastian Bach and Johann Gottfried Walther (organist at the church of St. Peter and St. Paul) to prepare transcriptions like those heard in the Dutch capital. There quickly appeared a rather large body of such works which, in the case of those by Bach, were of great artistic merit. In this meeting of the two schools, under the protection of Johann Ernst, each was reflected in the other.