The sonatas and partitas for solo violin (BWV 1001–1006) are a set of six works composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. They are sometimes referred to in English as the sonatas and partias for solo violin in accordance with Bach's headings in the autograph manuscript: "Partia" (plural "Partien") was commonly used in German-speaking regions during Bach's time, whereas the Italian "partita" was introduced to this set in the 1879 Bach Gesellschaft edition, having become standard by that time. [ page needed ] The set consists of three sonatas da chiesa in four movements and three partitas (or partias) in dance-form movements. The 2nd Partita is widely known for its Chaconne, considered one of the most masterly and expressive works ever written for solo violin.
The set was completed by 1720 but was not published until 1802 by Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn. Even after publication, it was largely ignored until the celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim started performing these works. Today, Bach's Sonatas and Partitas are an essential part of the violin repertoire, and they are frequently performed and recorded.
The Sei Solo a Violino senza Basso accompagnato (Six Solos for Violin Without Bass Accompaniment), as Bach titled them, firmly established the technical capability of the violin as a solo instrument. The pieces often served as archetypes for solo violin pieces by later generations of composers, including Eugène Ysaÿe and Béla Bartók.
The surviving autograph manuscript of the sonatas and partitas was made by Bach in 1720 in Köthen, where he was Kapellmeister. As Wolff (2002) comments, the paucity of sources for instrumental compositions prior to Bach's period in Leipzig makes it difficult to establish a precise chronology; nevertheless, a copy made by the Weimar organist Johann Gottfried Walther in 1714 of the Fugue in G minor for violin and continuo, BWV 1026, which has violinistic writing similar to that in BWV 1001–1006, provides support for the commonly held view that the collection could have been reworked from pieces originally composed in Weimar.
The goal of producing a polyphonic texture governed by the rules of counterpoint also indicates the influence of the first surviving works of this kind for solo violin, Johann Paul von Westhoff's partitas for solo violin composed in 1696. The virtuoso violinist Westhoff served as court musician in Dresden from 1674 to 1697 and in Weimar from 1699 until his death in 1705, so Bach would have known him for two years.The repertoire for solo violin was actively growing at the time: Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber's celebrated solo passacaglia appeared c.1676; Westhoff's collections of solo violin music were published in 1682 and 1696; Johann Joseph Vilsmayr's Artificiosus Concentus pro Camera in 1715, and Johann Georg Pisendel's solo violin sonata was composed around 1716; and finally, Georg Philipp Telemann published 12 Fantasias for solo violin in 1735.
It is not known whether these violin solos were performed during Bach's lifetime or, if they were, who the performer was. Johann Georg Pisendel and Jean-Baptiste Volumier, both talented violinists in the Dresden court, have been suggested as possible performers, as was Joseph Spiess, leader of the orchestra in Köthen. Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, who would later become part of the Bach family circle in Leipzig, also became a likely candidate.Bach himself was an able violinist from his youth, and his familiarity with the violin and its literature shows in the composition of the set and the very detailed autograph manuscript, as does incidental fingering in the text. According to his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, "in his youth, and until the approach of old age, he played the violin cleanly and powerfully".
Upon Bach's death in 1750, the original manuscript passed into the possession, possibly through his second wife Anna Magdalena, of Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach. It was inherited by the last male descendant of J. C. F. Bach, Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach, who passed it on to his sister Christina Louisa Bach (1762–1852).
Four other early manuscripts also exist. One, originally identified as an authentic Bach autograph from his Leipzig period, is now identified as being a copy dating from 1727–32 by Bach's second wife Anna Magdalena Bach, and is the companion to her copy of the six suites Bach wrote for solo cello. Another copy, dated July 3, 1726 (the date is on the final page), made by one of Bach's admirers Johann Peter Kellner, is well preserved, despite the fact that the B minor Partita was missing from the set and that there are numerous deviations and omissions. These differences may have come from an earlier source or composing copy, and not necessarily copying errors on Kellner's part. This view is supported by Zoltán Szabó. The three manuscripts are in the Berlin State Museum and have been in the possession of the Bach-Gesellschaft since 1879, through the efforts of Alfred Dörffel. Two other eighteenth century manuscripts, both by unidentified copyists, have also survived.
The first edition was printed in 1802 by Nikolaus Simrock of Bonn. It is clear from errors in it that it was not made with reference to Bach's own manuscript, and it has many mistakes that were frequently repeated in later editions of the 19th century.
Virtually every great violin performer has recorded the Sonatas and Partitas, often multiple times, as in the case of Joseph Szigeti, Nathan Milstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Henryk Szeryng, Hilary Hahn and other distinguished players. Strikingly, David Oistrakh, the towering performer of the violin, is not known to have recorded the complete set of Sonatas and Partitas. One of the most famous performers of the Sonatas and Partitas was the violinist and composer Georges Enescu, who considered this work as "The Himalayas of violinists" and recorded all the sonatas and partitas in the late 1940s. One of his students (Serge Blanc) collected the notes of his master Enescu regarding sonority, phrasing, tempo, fingering and expression, in a now freely distributed document.
The sonatas each consist of four movements, in the typical slow-fast-slow-fast pattern of the sonata da chiesa. The first two movements of each sonata are a prelude and a fugue. The third (slow) movement is lyrical, while the final movement shares the similar musical structure as a typical binary suite movement. Unlike the sonatas, the partitas are of more unorthodox design. Although still making use of the usual baroque style of allemande, courante, sarabande, and gigue, with some omissions and the addition of galanteries, new elements were introduced into each partita to provide variety.
Aside from the surviving transcriptions BWV 964 and 968, two different sources also indicate that Bach and his circle performed the Sonatas and Partitas on keyboard instruments, rather than on the violin. Music theorist, instrument maker and organ player Jakob Adlung writes (Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit, Erfurt, 1758), regarding the keyboard works by Bach – ”They are actually violini soli senza basso, 3 Sonatas and 3 Partitas, which are well suited for performance on the keyboard”.Johann Friedrich Agricola, who co-wrote Bach's obituary, reports that ”Their composer often played them himself on the clavichord, and added so much harmonies to them, as he found necessary”.
Though the key signature of the manuscript suggests D minor, such was a notational convention in the Baroque period, and therefore does not necessarily imply that the piece is in the Dorian mode. The second movement, the fugue, would later be reworked for the organ (in the Prelude and Fugue, BWV 539) and the lute (Fugue, BWV 1000), with the latter being two bars longer than the violin version.
This partita substitutes a bourrée (marked Tempo di Borea) for the gigue. Each movement is followed by a variation (double in French).
In the original manuscript, Bach marked 'Segue la Corrente' at the end of Allemanda. The monumental Chaconne, the last and most famous movement of the suite, was regarded as "the greatest structure for solo violin that exists" by Yehudi Menuhin.It involves a set of variations based on a simple phrase repeated in harmonic progression in the bass line (ground bass).
The opening movement of the work introduced a peaceful, slow stacking up of notes, a technique once thought to be impossible on bowed instruments. The fugue is the most complex and extensive of the three, with the subject derived from the chorale Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott. Bach employs many contrapuntal techniques, including a stretto, an inversion, as well as diverse examples of double counterpoint.
Partita was originally the name for a single-instrumental piece of music, but Johann Kuhnau, his student Christoph Graupner, and Johann Sebastian Bach used it for collections of musical pieces, as a synonym for suite.
The Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis is a catalogue of compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was first published in 1950, edited by Wolfgang Schmieder. The catalogue's second edition appeared in 1990. An abbreviated version of that second edition, known as BWV2a, was published in 1998.
The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, is a piece of organ music written, according to its oldest extant sources, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). The piece opens with a toccata section, followed by a fugue that ends in a coda. Scholars differ as to when it was composed. It could have been as early as c. 1704. Alternatively, a date as late as the 1750s has been suggested. To a large extent, the piece conforms to the characteristics deemed typical of the north German organ school of the Baroque era with divergent stylistic influences, such as south German characteristics.
The Partita in D minor for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach was written between 1717 and 1720. It is a part of his compositional cycle called Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin.
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites and Brandenburg Concertos; keyboard works such as the Goldberg Variations, The Well-Tempered Clavier and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor; and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival, he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music.
Johann Sebastian Bach composed suites, partitas and overtures in the baroque dance suite format for solo instruments such as harpsichord, lute, violin, cello and flute, and for orchestra.
The keyboard concertos, BWV 1052–1065, are concertos for harpsichord, strings and continuo by Johann Sebastian Bach. There are seven complete concertos for a single harpsichord, three concertos for two harpsichords, two concertos for three harpsichords, and one concerto for four harpsichords. Two other concertos include solo harpsichord parts: the concerto BWV 1044, which has solo parts for harpsichord, violin and flute, and Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, with the same scoring. In addition, there is a nine-bar concerto fragment for harpsichord which adds an oboe to the strings and continuo.
The Partita No. 3 in E major for solo violin, BWV 1006.1, is the last work in Johann Sebastian Bach's set of Six Sonatas and Partitas. It consists of the following movements:
The Bach-Busoni Editions are a series of publications by the Italian pianist-composer Ferruccio Busoni (1866–1924) containing primarily piano transcriptions of keyboard music by Johann Sebastian Bach. They also include performance suggestions, practice exercises, musical analysis, an essay on the art of transcribing Bach's organ music for piano, an analysis of the fugue from Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' sonata, and other related material. The later editions also include free adaptations and original compositions by Busoni which are based on the music of Bach.
The six sonatas for violin and obbligato harpsichord BWV 1014–1019 by Johann Sebastian Bach are works in trio sonata form, with the two upper parts in the harpsichord and violin over a bass line supplied by the harpsichord and an optional viola da gamba. Unlike baroque sonatas for solo instrument and continuo, where the realisation of the figured bass was left to the discretion of the performer, the keyboard part in the sonatas was almost entirely specified by Bach. They were probably mostly composed during Bach's final years in Cöthen between 1720 and 1723, before he moved to Leipzig. The extant sources for the collection span the whole of Bach's period in Leipzig, during which time he continued to make changes to the score.
The organ sonatas, BWV 525–530 by Johann Sebastian Bach are a collection of six sonatas in trio sonata form. Each of the sonatas has three movements, with three independent parts in the two manuals and obbligato pedal. The collection was put together in Leipzig in the late 1720s and contained reworkings of prior compositions by Bach from earlier cantatas, organ works and chamber music as well as some newly composed movements. The sixth sonata, BWV 530, is the only one for which all three movements were specially composed for the collection. When played on an organ, the second manual part is often played an octave lower on the keyboard with appropriate registration. Commentators have suggested that the collection might partly have been intended for private study to perfect organ technique, some pointing out that its compass allows it to be played on a pedal clavichord. The collection of sonatas is generally regarded as one of Bach's masterpieces for organ. The sonatas are also considered to be amongst his most difficult compositions for the instrument.
The Triple Concerto, BWV 1044, is a concerto in A minor for traverso, violin, harpsichord, and string orchestra by Johann Sebastian Bach. He based the composition on his Prelude and Fugue BWV 894 for harpsichord and on the middle movement of his Organ Sonata BWV 527, or on earlier lost models for these compositions.
The organ concertos of Johann Sebastian Bach are solo works for organ, transcribed and reworked from instrumental concertos originally composed by Antonio Vivaldi and the musically talented Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. While there is no doubt about the authenticity of BWV 592–596, the sixth concerto BWV 597 is now probably considered to be spurious. Composed during Bach's second period at the court in Weimar (1708–1717), the concertos can be dated more precisely to 1713–1714.
Rudolf Gaehler is a German violinist. He uses the curved bow for playing polyphonic music.
The Andreas Bach Book is an important collection of 18th century European organ and harpsichord music compiled around 1708, named after Andreas Bach, who was one of the owners of the collection, as well as the nephew of Johann Sebastian Bach. The main scribe of the anthology was Johann Christoph Bach, Johann Sebastian's elder brother and father of Andreas. Along with the Möller Manuscript, the Andreas Bach Book represents the earliest major source of the works of J.S. Bach, housing the earliest known copies of the famous Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 and Fugue in G minor, BWV 578.
Manuscripts and published editions
Books and journal articles
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