A Musical Offering is a collection of contrapuntal treatments of a single theme by Frederick the Great, who was a noted flautist and composer for the instrument. The theme had been given to Bach to improvise upon when he visited the king at Potsdam where his son, Karl Philipp Emanuel, was court composer.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was born into a family of musicians successful for over two centuries. Although later in his career he became most noted for his choral and other church-related compositions, he also left a large body of instrumental music for solo instruments and ensembles. While his popular reputation was eclipsed by the fame of his sons, he was revered by musicians and composers. Finally in the 19th century, Mendelssohn brought his music to public attention and he became recognized as one of the greatest of all composers.