This week on Arizona Encore, celebrate Bach’s 338th birthday with us!
Johann Sebastian Bach’s “French Suites” were left unpublished at the time of the composer’s death, but the first five were included in his 1722 “Little Notebook for Anna Magdelana,” one of several notebooks that acted as one part family journal and another part music-instruction guide.
Each suite contains four dance movements that Bach standardized for the genre: the Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue, each of these dances drawing inspiration from the musical style of a specific country. That being said, the reason behind these suites being designated “French,” (and also the designation of “English” for a separate set of suites), is a bit of a mystery; however, the nickname most definitely did not come from the composer, and some speculate that it was simply named “French” because – to listeners’ ears at that time – it sounded stylistically like French music.
We’ll hear the French Suite No. 5 on this Arizona Encore episode as part of an All-Bach program that also includes solo violin works like the Chaconne from the Partita No. 2, and arrangements of some of Bach’s sacred works.