Bach Brandenburg 3 slow movement, MY ARRANGEMENTS, Uncategorized

An Adagio for Bach Brandenburg 3 from Suscepit Israel in his Magnificat

It’s always been a problem knowing what to play in this Adagio.  It ends on a B major chord, the dominant of E minor

One of my favourite movements in Bach is Suscepit Israel from his Magnificat, which ends on the same chord  Conveniently, this has three solo high voices so I have used the choirs of first three violins and then three violas.  Instruments not otherwise playing take, mostly in solo pairs, the cantus firmus line originally written for a pair of oboes.  Bach’s original had no violone so I have doubled sparingly for double bass.  It did indicate an organ, with no figuration, so if one is available this can play the cello solo line, and ideally on a separate double reed, manual, join the cantus firmus.  Organ and bass are optional in this arrangement but double bass will be needed for most performances of Brandenburg 3.

The last two bars are almost exactly as in the Bach M/S, with a small solo viola 1 cadenza which links the first theme of this Adagio with the subsequent fast movement in G major.

Please credit me (Andrew Chadwick) and let me know if you use it.  I have the Sibelius original in case bowings and cues need to be added

Apparently the cantus firmus is the ‘tonus peregrinus’ historically associated with Pasalm 113 the Magnificat and used by Praetorius and others.  It does not fit the standard eight church modes and so is sometimes also known as the ‘ninth mode’ In performance of my transcription, the idea is that it should not be obvious to the audience where in the ensemble this line is coming from, so smooth handovers between the parts will be needed.  Webern’s Passacaglia used a similar technique.

Audio file generated by Sibelius version 6


Score and all parts




Order of parts in this combined file Violins 1-3, Violas 1-3, Celli 1-3, Bass, Organ


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