Road to Bach?
I'm an amateur beginner violinist, which is currently starting to learn double stops... and who loves Bach.
I'm currently learning the 2nd movement of the Corelli Op.5 No. 7 sonata, and the mazurka at Dancla Op. 123.
I'd like to know:
(1) Which is the typical path from my current level to Bach solo works.
(2) Which technical aspects should I pay more attention to in order to correctly playing Bach (bow strokes? double or triple stops? new positions?)
(3) Can you point me to a graded Bach repertoire? Which of his works are easier?
Thank you very much
Because the left fingers approach the strings diagonally, the distances between the fingers learnt in scales are much modified as we cross the fingerboard. So lots of arpeggios!
The Bach Cello Suites are easier than the violin works, and can probably be found in a violin edition. Joseph Szigeti was a huge fan of them for this purpose.
Then, I'll pay attention to my sloppy arpeggios. I had heard the cello suites played on viola... but not on a violin. I'll search for them on youtube and may try some easy parts. Thank you everyone.
Some movements from the solo sonatas and partitas are a lot easier than other movements. Most people start with either the D minor or E major partitas (no. 2 and no. 3).
Telemann Solo sonatas are a good stepping stone.
Telemann also wrote a set of 12 Fantasies which are a good stepping stone. However, after that, I would try the Bach cello suites, which as everyone has pointed out, are easier than the S&Ps. If you want to try the S&Ps, start with the last movements, or some of the movements in the 1st Partita, which I think are the easiest.
Thank you Lydia, Scott and Tom. I'd like to play the Sonatas and Partitas, but I prefer to wait and play them properly with a better technique, instead of learning them badly, not enjoying them and not making them sound right. That's why I wanted to know what other works could I play before attempting them.
I don't know where they'd fit in, but I'd include the Bach accompanied sonatas - certainly easier than the solos for the most part, and probably intended by him to be so.
Telemann Fantasia No 1 in b flat major and 7 in e flat major are the easier ones to start with; also the one in e major and in d major. I'm currently self-studying and working up to the Bach violin solo pieces as well and the cello suites transcribed for violin definitely help since they start out much easier than the violin solos, but by the 6th suite are reaching the same level of difficulty. They are beautiful too, especially the 3rd suite. The Biber Passacagalia also is a slightly higher stepping stone but a good one nonetheless. I find the Bach accompanied sonatas to be a little harder to practice with no accompaniment and of a different playing style than what is needed for the solo pieces.
I'd second most of those recommendations (apart from the Biber Passacaglia, to be honest that is more difficult than the Bach you would start with).
I found this list somewhere online: -
Andrew, if you could please post where you found that list, that would be very helpful. Thank you for the useful info.
J Ray's advocacy of the Bach accompanied sonatas is welcome. They are wonderful pieces and much easier than the S&Ps.
I don't know where you are with etudes, but Dont op. 37 and Kreutzer complement a lot of stuff in Bach.
Sorry, Thierno, I didn't keep the address for that one.
The edition of the Bach Cello Suites for violin linked below is absolutely wonderful. Expertly edited (i.e., sparsely with keen attention to the manuscripts, very few fingerings), nice big notes that are easy to read, nice spiral binding, and it's only $20.
(1) gotta really know your single-note scales (as in, up to tempo, in tune, etc.) and having played some double stops. Bach really takes a toll on your left hand because there are a lot of awkward techniques, like parallel fifth string crossings, half positions, let alone that you have to adjust your intonation for double stops.
As for scales, I agree they're important but so much emphasis in teaching is placed on
But of course the best preparation for solo Bach is playing solo Bach. You really aren’t going to get double stops until you’re in the sh*t, so to speak. I was well prepared when my teacher started me but after a year in a half in which we’ve done all of E and part of D and B, coming back to finish those last two (except the Chaconne of course), double stops finally make intuitive sense. Compared to before, it’s a revaluation, and now that the technical faculty has arrived there is endless musical improvement to explore in the lessons.
If you're really an amateur beginner, a lot of unaccompanied Bach is going to require technique you haven't got yet. It could be a couple of years before you're ready.
Thank you very much. I always get great advice here. I’ll have a look at all the works that have been mentioned, not just for knowing what can I play, but for pure listening enjoyment.
The biggest challenge with Bach is double stops, and few methods have enough concentrated double stop practice. Suzuki does a poor job with it. Few etudes have enough until you get to Kreutzer.
Trott has some great stuff in there, I second that suggestion.
Happy New Year guys! Could you help me by proposing a duo Violin piece (First & Second Violin) for two of us. Our choices are Bach, Vivaldi or Mozart. We are currently at Grade 6 (Trinity College of London) in Violin.
Good news then! I’m working right now on Trotts first volume! I have very recently started with it, but my teacher likes the method and wants to go through the two volumes.
The Adagio of the F minor sonata, BWV 1018, is almost entirely slow double stops, which are very beautiful. I think they stand by themselves as a musical line, though the contrasting runs on the clavier make it more enjoyable for the listener.