Orchestral Suite No.3 in D major BWV 1068 (includes Air on the G String)
Johann Sebastian Bach

150

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The third of 11 entries for the fifth most popular composer in the Ultimate Hall of Fame. This has appeared in every chart apart from in 2013, but it reached its highest ever position of 91 in the most recent countdown.

Bach composed four Orchestral Suites, including his most famous offering — the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D — which contains the well-known 'Air on a G string'. It was written, along with the other Orchestral Suites, during the last period of the composer's life in Leipzig, around 1731.

Bach's definition of 'orchestral' is pretty loose. The group of musicians performing the work might be as small as a string quartet, a handful of woodwind players, some trumpets and a percussionist. Suite No. 3 is scored for three instrumental choirs — two oboes, three trumpets, timpani and strings.

The Suite's second movement — the Air — was transcribed for strings by August Wilhelmj, which made it a party piece playable on only one string of a violin — hence its nickname 'Air on the G string'. It has become one of the most famous pieces of Baroque music.