Bach wrote his Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major (from which this Air is the second movement) sometime between 1717 and 1723 for his patron, Prince Leopold of Anhalt. The Air’s popularity was greatly enhanced when, in the late nineteenth century, violinist August Wilhelmj created an arrangement of the piece for violin and piano. He transposed the music so that he could play the melody entirely on the G string – the lowest string on a violin – hence deriving the nickname title of the piece – Air on a G string. And then, of course, who can forget the jazzy rendition that featured prominently in nearly 30 years of Hamlet cigar TV adverts?!
Parts for both clarinet in B flat and A are provided.