Johann Georg Pisendel was not only one of the greatest violin virtuosos of the 18th century, but to his contemporaries he was primarily known as the concertmaster of the famous Dresden Hofkapelle, which was particularly renowned for the outstanding quality of its performances. In 1697 he was accepted as a choir boy at the court of Ansbach, where he became a pupil of the Giuseppe Torelli and Francesco Antonio Pistocchi, advancing to the position of violinist in the court chapel by the time he turned sixteen. In 1709 he moved to Leipzig to study at the local university and immediately became concertmaster of the collegium musicum directed by Melchior Hoffmann. During these years Pisendel established personal contacts with J. S. Bach, and G. P. Telemann. Late in 1711 Pisendel accepted the offer of the court at Dresden to become premier violon and substitute of the concertmaster J. B. Woulmyer. He traveled with a number of his Hofkapelle colleagues to Paris in 1714, to Venice in 1716, and to Vienna in 1718/19. At Venice Pisendel studied for a while with A. Vivaldi, who dedicated a number of concerts to him. Upon his return he at first took up again his position of deputy concertmaster, acquiring an excellent reputation as a teacher. He was appointed concertmaster in 1731.
From the mid-1720s the emphasis of Pisendel’s activities shifted from appearances as a soloist to arranging, rehearsing, and directing performances of works by other composers. As concertmaster he was responsible primarily for the instrumental repertoire of the Hofkapelle; in addition, he also had to rehearse and direct the orchestra in opera performances. Compared with other leading musicians of his time Pisendel’s compositional output was rather limited. The Concerto da Camera in B flat major presented here was identified only in recent years by Ortrun Landmann as a composition by Pisendel.
(translation by Stephanie Wollny)