One of my violist colleague’s former students called looking for help getting a Bach viola concerto to fulfill requirements for an upcoming college course. The problem is, unfortunately, no such concerto exists. Although Bach wrote six Sonatas and Partitas for violin (BWV 1001-1006) and six Cello Suites (BWV 1007-1012), he wrote nothing specifically for the viola.
This is only one example of the relative dearth of viola literature. However, an ongoing tradition in the effort to increase viola literature has involved transcribing other works. Bach’s Cello Suites, for example have been transcribed for viola and have become a staple of the viola repertoire. We chose to participate in that same tradition by transcribing the A Minor Violin Concerto (BWV 1041), one of the three concerti Bach wrote for the violin.
Although remembered as a keyboard virtuoso, Bach also played the violin throughout his life. Because of his familiarity with the instrument, this concerto works well on the violin. The present version, for viola, has been transcribed down a fifth, allowing the concerto to lay on the viola in the same way it did on the violin in the original key.
The first performance of our “Viola Concerto” was by high school student Kate Fierens in August of 2013. It was debuted at a music workshop.
I hope this will become a much appreciated addition to the available literature.
If you are interested in purchasing the concerto, look here: