Orchestral suites (Bach)

Orchestral suites (Bach)

The four Orchestral Suites or Ouvertures BWV 1066–1069 are a set of compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach, probably composed around 1720 in Cöthen. The word ouverture refers to an opening movement in which a section of slow dotted-note rhythm is followed by a fugue; at the time, this name was also used to refer to a whole suite of dance-pieces in the French baroque style.

Ouverture No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066

  1. Ouverture
  2. Courante
  3. Gavotte I/II
  4. Forlane
  5. Minuet I/II
  6. Bourrée I/II
  7. Passepied I/II

Instrumentation: Oboe I/II, bassoon, violin I/II, viola, basso continuo

Ouverture No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067

  1. Ouverture
  2. Rondeau
  3. Sarabande
  4. Bourrée I/II
  5. Polonaise (Lentement) - Double
  6. Minuet
  7. Badinerie

Instrumentation: Solo flute, violin I/II, viola, basso continuo

The badinerie has become a show-piece for solo flautists, due to its quick pace and difficulty, and it is also often heard as a mobile phone ringtone. It was sampled by rapper Busdriver for his 2002 song Imaginary Places.

Ouverture No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068

  1. Ouverture
  2. Air
  3. Gavotte I/II
  4. Bourrée
  5. Gigue

Instrumentation: Trumpet I/II/III, timpani, oboe I/II, violin I/II, viola, basso continuo

The Air is one of the most famous pieces of classical music. An arrangement of the piece has come to be known as Air on the G String.

Ouverture No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069

  1. Ouverture
  2. Bourrée I/II
  3. Gavotte
  4. Menuet I/II
  5. Réjouissance

Instrumentation: Trumpet I/II/III, timpani, oboe I/II/III, bassoon, violin I/II, viola, basso continuo

The opening movement of this suite was reused by Bach at the choral opening to his cantata Unser Mund sei voll Lachens (BWV 110). The voices come in at the opening of the fugal gigue, so that their singing of 'lachens' (laughter) sounds like 'ha ha ha', a technique Bach used a few times in his vocal works.

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