• catherine little

Bach Meets Alberta

Years ago my friend Kathleen introduced me to the violinist David Greenberg's recording Bach Meets Cape Breton. It's an awesome recording, and I just love the way it mixes 18th century violin and folk fiddle traditions- if you like baroque or fiddle music, I highly recommend it.


So on to some more baroque music, and more Bach. Thanks David Greenberg for inspiring the name of this post! This is the Allemande from J. S. Bach's Cello Suite No. 1:

Many thanks to my talented reader, Diane for supplying the beautiful photographs.



Allemande who? Suite what? An explanation...


I get it, "classical"music titles tend to get wordy. In case you're wondering, most titles are a bit like code- they're easy to read if you know a few things first. Here's what you need to know about today's music:


A suite is a fancy hotel accommodation with several rooms. Ha! Seriously though, a musical suite is not much different. Rather than a collection of rooms, it's a few short tunes that go together to make the suite...


An Allemande is a dance that was popular at one time. Bach used mostly dance music to make up each suite. All six of them begin with a prelude (the only non-dance music), and end with a jig (gigue). In the middle there are these short pieces based on old dances, like Minuets and Sarabandes.


So that's the long and the short of it, if you played the video, you heard the Allemande from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. If you haven't heard this music before, you might have a lot of catching up to do! Let's see, six suites, times about six dances per suite... 😳! Nowadays Bach's Six Suites for the Cello are super famous. Mention "the Bach suites" and you're definitely talking about these six pieces.


What's one thing that makes the Bach Suites really cool? The absence of other instruments. Unlike most music for cello, the suites are played solo, alone, unaccompanied. It's a pared-down sound that might take some getting used to, but in it's own way, is very special.




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