Bach Partitas Analysis

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Bach’s three sets of six suites for keyboard, titled Partitas, French Suites, and English Suites have caused specialists to fruitlessly comb each set for some sense of distinct national characteristics. It was the publishers, however, not Bach, who provided the titles and Bach’s original manuscripts are lost. The English Suites, or Suites pour les Anglois, for example, were published with this name after Bach’s death.

The basic style of Baroque suites, including Bach’s instrumental suites, was essentially French. The form consisted of a set of four core dances, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue – usually in that order. Each dance was in binary form, comprising two sections, each of which is repeated, the first section generally moving away from thetonic (home key) while the second one returned to. The sequence of dances alternated between slow and fast, and opened with a characteristic rhythmic formula of the original dance. While Bach’s suites and partitas were never intended as actual dance music, their structure derived from French and Italian dances dating from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Bach and his contemporaries retained the binary form and system of repeats.

During the Baroque period, a suite of dances was frequently preceded
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There follow the four core dances in their standard order plus one or two additional movements. In 1726, when a son was born to his former employer, Prince Leopold of Cöthen, Bach sent him a copy of Partita No. 1 with a dedicatory poem. it was published that year and was Bach’s first printed keyboard work. The other five appeared over the next four years, and all six were published together in 1731 as Clavierübung...Opus 1 (Keyboard Practice). They ultimately became the first part of a larger publication scheme of keyboard music, comprising the four

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