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Air by J.S. Bach
from Orchestral Suite No. 3

FREE VIOLIN SHEET MUSIC*
Violin Melody Harmony A Harmony B Full Score

Scored in three-part harmony, and available with interchangeable viola, cello and bass parts.

Melody** Full Score
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Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Bach’s Air is from the second movement of his Orchestral Suite No. 3, and it features a beautiful, lyrical melody. The exact date when Bach composed his Orchestral Suite No. 3 is unknown. It is possible that Bach wrote it during the time that he was director of music for Prince Leopold of Anhalt at Cöthen (between 1717 and 1723), but original manuscripts of his Orchestral Suite No. 3 have not been found. It is clear that Bach performed his Orchestral Suite No. 3 during his Leipzig Collegium Musicum concerts (c. 1729-31). During Bach's term as leader of Leipzig 's Collegium Musicum, he wrote new instrumental music as well as new arrangements of instrumental works he had written in Cöthen. It is interesting to note that Bach regarded the purpose of all of his music as being “to the glory of God,” and he often inscribed his compositions with letters such as S.D.G. (soli Deo gloria - “to God alone be glory”). [1]

Bach’s Air from his Orchestral Suite No. 3 is sometimes referred to as Air on the G string. This is due to a violin and piano arrangement of Bach’s Air by the 19th century German violinist August Wilhelmj (1845-1908). Although Bach’s original Orchestral Suite No. 3 is composed in the key of D, Wilhelmj arranged Bach’s Air in the key of C and transcribed the melody an octave lower, making it possible to play the entire melody on the G string of the violin. For this reason, Bach’s Air is often called Air on the G string.[2]This particular arrangement of Bach’s Air is in the key of G to simplify the need for shifting while playing the melody.

To learn more about Bach, visit our String Class.

REFERENCE NOTES
[1] Wolf, Christoph and Jones, Richard. "Johann Sebastian Bach," The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Ed. Stanley Sadie. London : Macmillian, 1980. 1:785-840.
[2] Heron-Allen, E. “August Wilhelmj,” The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Ed. Stanley Sadie. London : Macmillian, 1980. 20:418-419.
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