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Photo Zach Mahone

Mozart & Bach with Joshua Bell

Academy of St Martin in the Fields
Orchestral Series
Saturday, June 24, 2023 at 6pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

Academy of St Martin in the Fields Music Director and superstar violinist Joshua Bell joins the ensemble in Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, paired with a performance of Bach’s epic Keyboard Concerto No.1 by Anne-Marie McDermott and two of Mozart’s early symphonies: Nos. 25 and 29. 

Renowned for its beautifully refined sound and vibrant interpretations, the Academy, led by Music Director Joshua Bell, makes a triumphant return for its fourth residency at Bravo! Vail.


All artists, programs, and pricing are subject to change.​

Program Details

Joshua Bell, violin

Anne-Marie McDermott, piano

Tomo Keller, Director/Leader

BACH Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041

MOZART Symphony No. 29

BACH Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052

MOZART Symphony No. 25

Guest Artists

Joshua Bell


Anne-Marie McDermott


Tomo Keller


Program Notes

Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 (ca. 1730?)

(15 minutes)


Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041
     Allegro assai


From 1717-23, Johann Sebastian Bach was in charge of secular music for the Court of Cöthen. The 13-member instrumental ensemble there fell short of what we would consider a modern orchestra, standing instead with one foot firmly planted in the realm of chamber music—somewhat analogous to a modern chamber orchestra. After he moved to Leipzig, in 1723, his job centered on sacred music, but for many years he also moonlighted by directing the city’s Collegium Musicum, a society of university students, professional musicians, and interested amateurs who met most Friday evenings to play music for their own pleasure and for the delectation of listeners who cared to drop by. In cold months, the group gathered at Zimmermann’s coffeehouse, in Leipzig’s Katherinestrasse; during the summer, they moved outdoors to the café’s garden establishment on the outskirts of town. “In Leipzig,” a period account stated, “the Bachian Collegium Musicum is more famous than all others.” With an ongoing need for concerto repertoire, Bach apparently dipped into his back-catalogue to recast works written in Cöthen. His Violin Concerto in A minor may have been such a piece, but some scholars now believe that he wrote it expressly for the Collegium Musicum, around 1730. It is a densely concentrated, contrapuntally involved piece, superserious in its outer movements but somewhat more relaxed in its central Andante. If the circumstances of the piece’s genesis are ambiguous, there is no question that at some point Bach arranged it for the Collegium Musicum to present with solo harpsichord rather than violin, and the piece is heard still today in both versions. 

Symphony No. 29 in A major, K.201/186a (1774)

(24 minutes)


Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K.183/173dB
     Allegro con brio


Symphony No. 29 was completed in April 1774. Already with its first movement we sense a seductive beauty that had not surfaced as consistently in Mozart’s earlier scores. Its principal melody displays deceptive simplicity—the most fundamental arch moving up four notes from the tonic and then back down again, played piano by the strings alone, but sculpted with uncanny insight into a memorable theme. Most of his earlier symphonies are characterized by light string textures, a paucity of thematic interest, and rhythmic incisiveness that, though vivid, is ultimately predictable. These symphonies of 1773-74 exhibit a firmer sense of orchestral mastery, a more active use of woodwinds for color, and a more sophisticated harmonic logic. As the musicologist Alfred Einstein put it, “The instruments change character: the strings become wittier, the winds lose everything that is simply noisy, the figuration drops everything merely conventional.”


(18 minutes)

Keyboard Concerto No.1 in D minor, BWV 1052 (ca. 1714-17/ ca.1729-39)

(24 minutes)


Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052 

The D-minor Keyboard Concerto (BWV 1052) also began as a violin concerto. You can hear that in extended passages where the melody weaves in close proximity above and below a repeated drone note. That’s not idiomatic harpsichord writing; it’s violin writing that would have involved quick alternation between two strings—one for the melody, the other (probably an open string) for the drone. The work’s style suggests that it may even precede Bach’s time in Cöthen, perhaps dating from the end of his years at the Court of Weimar, around 1714-17. That is just the time when Bach became captivated by the music of Vivaldi and began to adopt that composer’s ritornello procedures in his own scores—and the ritornellos (recurrent refrains) of the first and third movements of the D-minor Concerto sound remarkably Vivaldian. Perennially popular, this is one of his few works to boast an essentially unbroken performance tradition, even through the late18th and early-19th centuries, when shockingly few of Bach’s works remained in the active repertoire.

Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K.183/173dB (1773)

(24 minutes)


Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K.183/173dB
     Allegro con brio


Anthony Burgess, in his literary fantasy On Mozart (1991), assigns these words to Mozart’s pupil Franz Xaver Süssmayr, who insists that his teacher’s symphonies demand serious attention beginning with No. 25:

"Now come the symphonies: 1 to 24 The non-Mozartian safely can ignore, But hardly these ..."

His point is not unfair. There is no good reason not to become acquainted with Mozart’s earlier symphonies, but as long as people steep themselves in those from number 25 on, they have reasonable hope of achieving lives that are happy and fulfilling.

In July 1773, Mozart’s father hustled him off to Vienna hoping to find Wolfgang a position. No appointment was forthcoming, but in the ten weeks they spent there the Mozarts heard much cutting-edge music, including pieces by Haydn that broke free from previous Italianate models. These experiences were soon reflected in Mozart’s music.

Symphony No. 25, written that October, is a taut and turbulent piece filled with syncopated rhythms, angular themes, and wide intervals. It is one of only two fully-fledged symphonies Mozart cast in the minor mode, the other being his extraordinary No. 40, composed 15 years later and also in G minor. Because both are in the same key, No. 25 is sometimes referred to as the Little G-minor Symphony. It reflects Mozart’s fleeting fascination with the Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) movement, whose doctrine of explosive emotional individualism was sweeping German-speaking lands at that moment. The composer didn’t consign this remarkable piece to the dustbin even after the fad faded; on January 4, 1783, he wrote from Vienna (where he had by then moved) asking his father back home in Salzburg to send the music for the Little G-minor Symphony he had written a decade earlier.

Did you know?

Bach was one his era’s supreme keyboard virtuosos, but he was also a highly accomplished violinist who often served as concertmaster of the ensembles he led. He could have appeared as soloist in both the concertos included in this concert.
Presented At

Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater