Johann Sebastian Bach may have been the greatest composer ever, but he, too, had to learn the trade. And that meant reading and copying music, and playing endlessly on as many instruments as possible. Bach was extremely curious and from an early age he was already open to a great diversity of styles. He focused not only on obvious composers like Antonio Vivaldi, but also copied works by composers like Antonio Biffi and Johann Baal. He copied part of Biffi’s cantata ‘Amante Moribondo’ somewhere around 1710. We know, in any case, that this copy dates from before 1712.

Actually, it is only a short recitative, ‘Horebrevi e fatali’. Although Bach also copied the accompanying aria, only the first few bars of it have survived. You can see straight away why Bach found Biffi interesting. There is something very refined about the harmony. Biffi came from the Venetian school, which focused strongly on the meaning of the words. Biffi has a very well-considered style, in which details are highlighted. This was music for connoisseurs. Up to now, no recording has been made of this Bach-Biffi fragment. However, it does belong to Bach, so we have recorded it for the All of Bach project.