Bach, cello suites, dance


Before J. S. Bach, the cello was rarely used as a solo instrument. With his suites for solo cello, however, Bach took the instrument out of the background of dance accompaniment and basso continuo, and placed it on the center stage for musical audiences. He accomplished this by using dance movements, a style in which the cello was already a familiar accompanying instrument. The forms of these dance movements were also used in such a way as to uniquely express the cello’s potential as a solo instrument. Ultimately, it was these suites that would inspire other composers to write solo works for the cello. By looking to the past, Bach created a work that looked to the future. This paper explores the musical elements in this work that contribute to their lasting influence.



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