Last year, when all my concerts were cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis, I decided to turn to something which one lone violinist can easily study at home: the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Of the six sonatas and partitas BWV 1001-1005 there was one which I had never attempted to play, BWV 1005 in C major, generally thought to be the most challenging of the set. What better way to keep myself occupied with music, I thought, and occupied I certainly was! As the summer months brought Covid hygiene relaxations, but very few concerts and no tours, I decided to take up a friend’s invitation to spend some weeks in the country. I travelled to the Altmark, a sparsely populated, rural area north of Braunschweig in Germany.

There I discovered that every tiny village had its own tiny village church, many of them built in the 12th century. A plan hatched in my head, and soon I had befriended the local vicar and was performing Bach’s C major Sonata as one-to-one concerts in various village churches.

I hadn’t known about the Altmark before this visit and was fascinated by the fact that the area lay almost on the route of Bach’s very first epic journey through Germany, when he walked approximately 380km from Ohrdruf to Luuneburg as a fifteen-year-old.

I was determined to discover more about Bach’s journey and whether he indeed might have passed through the Altmark, and it is from this fascination that the idea for this project, “Bach’s Quest”, arose.

Thanks to Corona-Relief grants issued by the Ministry of Culture in North Rhine-Westphalia I have been able to begin to explore this topic, and have coupled it with an exploration of the entire set of Bach’s music for solo violin.

I now know that Bach would definitely not have passed through the Altmark (never mind!) and continue to learn fascinating new things about the composer and life in Germany in 1700. I am indebted to all the “new” people with whom I have discussed aspects of this project, as I am indebted to all the “old” people who are supporting me on this, Bach’s Quest.