Faculty to perform Bach masterpiece 7:30 tonight

Johann Sebastian Bach’s masterpiece Ein Musikalisches Opfer (A Musical Offering) will be performed by seven members of the UNL music faculty 7:30 p.m., Jan. 24 in Kimball Recital Hall.

The performers will be John Bailey (flute), William McMullen (oboe), Jeffrey McCray (bassoon), David Neely (violin), Clark Potter (viola), Karen Becker (cello), and Christopher Marks (harpsichord).

This rarely performed piece was written in response to a challenge given to Bach by Frederick the Great. In 1747, Frederick submitted a devilish theme upon which the 62-year-old Bach was to improvise. After declining to improvise a six-voice fugue on the ill-suited theme, Bach went home, wrote 10 canons, two ricercars (fugues), and a trio sonata all based on the King’s theme.

This collection, a tour de force of contrapuntal composition, was submitted to Frederick in fulfillment (and more) of the challenge.

The music shows Bach at his compositional peak, writing music spanning several styles. UNL music faculty will perform the entire collection of pieces with a variety of instrumental combinations, preceded by a short talk about the piece by Christopher Marks and accompanied by explanatory PowerPoint slides.

The performance is free and open to the public.