The Bach Six Solo Cello Suites are considered a staple for every budding cellist. But in Bach’s day, the cello was not considered a solo instrument and these works were shelved for decades. Not until Pablo Casals came along. Take a minute to get the scoop!
Bach Cello Suite No. 2 in D min. BWV 1008 Casals c/o YouTube
Since the earliest manuscripts copied by his wife Anna Magdalena Bach contain no markings as to the bowings, tempo, character, or articulation of the pieces, the suites have been reinterpreted in myriad ways by cellists around the world. One has to admire how the music speaks no matter how varied the approach. Nonetheless, certain cellists stand out for their Bach’s music.
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The Bach Six Solo Cello Suites are considered a staple for every budding cellist. These pieces are an incredible inspiration and a massive monument to achieve.
Today they are among the most frequently performed pieces of music for cello but it was not always so. In Bach’s day, the cello was not considered a solo instrument and these works were shelved for decades.
It was not until Pablo Casals wandered into a dusty old music store with his father in 1889 coming across a second hand copy of Bach's Cello Suites.
He saw the expanse of this music repertoire—its rich and varied, dancelike and somber motifs, that explore every technique and illuminates the soul.
Once Casals recorded them in 1936, the suites opened a world to other cellists who began to clamor to know and to perform them, revealing the infinite possibilities of the cello to other composers.