A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Musikalisches Opfer

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MUSIKALISCHES OPFER, i.e. Musical Offering. One of Bach's works, containing various treatments of a subject given him by Frederick the Great to extemporise upon during his visit to Potsdam in [1]1747. The work, as published by Breitkopf & Härtel (Nov. 1831), contains 2 Ricercare, one for 3 voices and one for 6 voices (the latter in score), 1 Fuga canonica for 2 voices, 5 Sonatas for Flute (the king's own instrument), Violin, and Continuo, and 8 Canons; 16 pieces in all. The work was published by Bach with a dedication dated July 7, 1747—a curious medley of 5 sheets oblong folio and 1 sheet upright folio, containing the Ricercar à 3, and a Canon perpetuus (the 3rd in B. & H.'s edition), 5 Canons, and the Fuga canonica. In the Dedication copy, now in the Amalienbibliothek at Berlin, Bach has written 'Regis Iussu Cantio Et Reliqua Canonica Arte Resoluta'—the theme demanded by the king with other things developed by canonical art. Four more oblong folio sheets seem to have been afterwards added, containing the Ricercar à 6 and 2 Canons, and lastly 3 sheets containing the Sonatas and 1 Canon. (See Spitta's Bach, ii. 671–676; 843–845.)

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  1. Spitta (ii. 710) says May 7 and 8. Mr. Carlyle, on the other hand, says April 7.