Bach The Suites for Solo Cello

Like many of Bach’s most significant instrumental works, the six cello suites were written during the period 1717-23 while he was Kapellmeister at Cöthen. As far as is known, they are technically the most demanding music written for the cello up to that time, and they remain one of the supreme challenges, as well as one of the supreme aesthetic triumphs, of the entire cello repertoire. Though Bach’s primary impulse may have been to explore the full possibilities of the instrument, it is likely that he was encouraged in this endeavour by the presence at Cöthen of some extremely capable player or players, perhaps one of the fine court cellists or gamba players such as Carl Friedrich Abel or more probably Christian Bernhard Linigke. The cello suites may have been completed around the time he married his second wife Anna Magdalena in 1721 (there are four extant fair copies of the Suites, one of them in her hand). It is difficult to think of Bach having a model for these unique pieces, but the solo works in Heinrich Biber’s Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa, which he probably knew (that collection was published in 1712 in Nuremberg) may have suggested some ideas ...



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