In his Baroque Concerto Arthur Hutchings explains that this is hardly peculiar – despite subsequent acclaim, during his lifetime Bach was valued far more as a performer than as a composer, and his instrumental music was promptly forgotten once he attained his next (and final) post at Leipzig, where he focused again on religious music (although he did perform some concertos and orchestral Suites in the 1730s with the Collegium musicum, a fellowship of local amateurs and students).
Common wisdom is that the Margrave never bothered to perform these fabulous works, and perhaps never even examined the score.
The three-fold basis for this notion is that the manuscript, which passed through private hands into a library, is in such fine condition as to suggest that it never was used, that Bach never received an acknowledgement (much less any reward), and that the works were considered so worthless that they were sold for a pittance upon the Margrave's death.
Fortunately, secondary sources exist to remedy such lapses, notably copies made in 1760 by Frederich Penzel of earlier versions (now all lost).
It is generally assumed that all the Brandenburgs were selected from a large body of Bach's existing concertos, some of which we know from admirers' copies and Bach's own later arrangements for other instruments, although none of the originals survives.
Indeed, Rifkin claims that the Margrave had a small orchestra that lacked both the instruments and sufficiently skilled players to cope with the demands of the Brandenburgs' diverse and difficult parts.
Thurston Dart calls Bach's presentation copy of the Brandenburgs a masterpiece of calligraphy but of far less value as a musical source due to the many errors that suggested haste.Even so, their popularity would have to wait nearly another century for the phonograph.Since then, the Brandenburgs have been widely praised.Albert Schweitzer, too, views the Brandenburgs in metaphysical terms, unfolding with an incomprehensible artistic inevitability in which the development of ideas transverses the whole of existence and displays the fundamental mystery of all things.Yet, despite the philosophical depth of such analyses and the extraordinary density and logic of Bach's conception that leads academics to fruitfully dissect his scores, commentators constantly remind us that the Brandenburgs were not intended to dazzle theorists or challenge intellectuals, but rather for sheer enjoyment by musicians and listeners.Yet, the relationship may have begun to sour, as Bach applied for an organ post in Hamburg in late 1720 but was rejected.Bach's dedication continues: Je supplie tres humblement Votre Altesse Royalle, d'avoir la bont de continuer des bonnes graces envers moi, et d'tre persuade que je n'ai rien tant coeur, que de pouvoir tre employ en des occasions plus dignes d'Elle et de son service I very humbly beg Your Royal Highness, to have the goodness to maintain his kind favour toward me, and to be persuaded that I have nothing more at heart, than to be able to be employed in some opportunities more worthy of Him and of his service In other words, Bach intended the Brandenburgs as his resum for a new job. Indeed, it's unclear what, if anything, the Margrave did with the presentation score once he received it.But his so-called Brandenburg Concertos survive in his original manuscript, which he had sent to the Margrave of Brandenburg in late March 1721.Bach's own title was Six Concerts Avec plusieurs Instruments ("Six Concertos With several Instruments"); the familiar label adhered after first being applied by Philipp Spitta in an 1880 biography.On the most basic level, Christopher Hogwood claims that, beyond wanting to impress the Margrave with his versatility, Bach used them to codify and organize his miscellaneous output and so they represent an endeavor to imitate the wealth of nature with all the means at his disposal.Similarly, Abraham Veinus regards them as the exemplification of Bach's creative thinking, comprising the full range of his thought, variety of instrumentation and inner structure – not a mere summary of the styles, forms and techniques of his predecessors but a realization and expansion of their full possibilities.