"Pre-requisites" for Bach Dm Partita?

June 7, 2018, 1:45 PM · In your opinion, what are the "pre-requisite" pieces I should have played and/or absolutely essential skills to have before taking on Partita no.2? I just listened to a recording of it and totally fell in love. I've never played solo Bach before, and I'm expecting that this will be a stretch piece for me, which is fine. I like a good project. However, if I'm really not ready for it, I want to know. Better to save something good for later than to butcher it now.

Replies (11)

June 7, 2018, 2:33 PM · The Chaconne is very, very difficult. Don't attempt it now, 'cause it's way harder than the rest of the partita. The list of pieces that every student learns will be different. There are pieces that almost everyone learns, but people do skip the typicals sometimes. You should be fairly good at double stops, good with tone production and intonation, and good with difficult string crossings. Others can give you more specific pointers.
Edited: June 7, 2018, 2:38 PM · The whole thing, or excluding the Chaconne? Very different answer depending on that.

If the whole thing but the Chaconne, I'd say you'd typically learn the whole E Major before doing all of those other movements, although the D Minor has a few movements you might do before doing the whole E Major.

If with the Chaconne, then you'll have already done the whole D Minor without Chaconne, E Major, B Minor, and G Minor, at least, if not all the others but the C Major or even every other movement but the C Major fugue.

June 7, 2018, 3:45 PM · I should clarify: w/o the Chaconne.
June 7, 2018, 7:44 PM · The d minor Partita is pretty much entry level solo Bach, minus the Chaconne of course. I don't think there's any set list of prerequisite pieces but you should be playing at least at the level of the Bach a minor before attempting the Allemande or Gigue; maybe Kabalevsky or De Beriot 9 level for the two inner movements.
June 7, 2018, 8:43 PM · I am a bit surprise that Teleman and other Baroque composers such as Corelli, Vivaldi, Torelli (etc) are not mentioned as a pre-requisite for studying Bach. Yes, d-minor (minus Chaconne) may appear to be less technically challenging, but Baroque style can not be assumed to magically pop-up with notes played in tune and proper rhythm only.
I would also invite you to consider using pure gut strings and baroque bow and tune down to 415Hz. It is easier to dive into Baroque era with more relaxed setup.
Edited: June 7, 2018, 10:36 PM · You just have to consider the chaconne in a different category. A wise person (perhaps Szigeti) advised to do at least some of the cello suites (transcribed and transposed) first. And I believe this is good advice unless you're on a very steep learning curve. The edition by Valerie Arsenault is amazingly good. If you are a "Suzuki kid" you have already done a couple of movements. And of course these are beautiful pieces in their own right. As far as level Mary Ellen has that right. And I believe your regular violin and bow will serve you just fine.
Edited: June 8, 2018, 12:03 AM · This is good though it has 2 pages missing. http://imslp.org/wiki/Bach-Studien_%28K%C3%B6tscher%2C_Hans%29 You can buy it with all pages. Give me a week or two and I'll have a go at uploading the missing pages.
June 8, 2018, 8:15 AM · You have to be specific about the different movements within any Bach sonata, because the difficulty varies. The first movement of the d minor isn't technically very difficult. What's difficult is figuring out how to phrase it so it doesn't sound like just random doodling in d minor. Which isn't actually that hard if you have some guidance from a teacher who understands it. If you can shift and utilize 2nd and 3rd, and occasionally 4th positions, and have some double-stop etudes such as Polo under your belt, you can play many of the Bach movements.

I wonder how many of the teachers here utilize the Teleman solo sonatas prior to Bach?

June 8, 2018, 5:27 PM · "I am a bit surprise that Teleman and other Baroque composers such as Corelli, Vivaldi, Torelli (etc) are not mentioned as a pre-requisite for studying Bach"

Vivaldi, Corelli and other Bach pieces are already a part of the common pedagogy, some like the minuets from the Magdalena notebooks from a very early point. Did you mean other unaccompanied violin pieces? Telemann's appear sometimes, but I don't see any of the others mentioned in this list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solo_violin_pieces

But I'm surprised that people don't mention the accompanied sonatas by Bach and that they aren't a more established part of common pedagogy, including Suzuki. Maybe someone can explain why this is so to me?

It's Bach, sometimes very beautiful, sometimes similar in feeling to the unaccompanied pieces, and easier to play and consume.

Edited: June 8, 2018, 8:45 PM · I had played traditional fiddle music for thirty years, and a bunch of other stringed instruments, and had degrees in composition--so I was well-prepared musically, but was not classically-trained on the violin. Long story, but I got a good bow and then a good violin and realized...playing the Chaconne was possible... I worked up the famous G major cello prelude transposed to D, then the Prelude from the E major Partita, then started chipping away on the Chaconne. While I have been working through that monster, I have since worked on several movements of the Bm Partita and the Am Sonata. All the while, this effort was bringing my fiddle repertoire and improvisation into Much Better Tune. The thing about the Chaconne is that there are so many textures and things to get that you might as well dive in and start getting it in your fingers. The first 24 measures will keep you busy!! My advice is to play through anything in the Bach solo violin material and start working that Chaconne, going past the wall of the first 24 measures into the rest of it. It is worth it, and if you keep chipping away on the first 24 measures, it will come around. Later I started working on the other movements in the Dm Partita and YES!--much easier...but I couldn't stay away from the Chaconne. So. satisfying. to. play. solo. Bach.
June 8, 2018, 9:27 PM · Bach's dance movements are so extraordinarily stylized, distilled, ingeniously mashed up from the French and Italian styles with counterpoint thrown in. It really pays off to play and hear music that Bach knew.

Telemann solo fantasies are great — you probably know Bach (and all his contemporaries) looked highly upon Telemann. Beautiful High Baroque writing with a dash of French. Telemann was CPE Bach's godfather, you know.

Pisendel solo violin partita — technically above Bach d minor partita minus ciaconna but gives you a sense of German solo violin writing.

Corelli op. 5 sonatas — everyone knew Corelli in Bach's days. The influence doesn't show up as much in d minor partita but great for your technique at your level.

French dances — everyone knew how to dance. Instead of learning this dance has this many beats and is strong on which beat...I would encourage you to listen to a lot of Lully and French dances in general. The Bach partita dances are like memories of dances. Or dances used as a vessel for Bach's genius. If you want to experience at a deeper level, you gotta get to the source and hear what Bach heard.

Have fun!


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