Partita for Violin No. 2 (Bach)
Except for the ciaccona, the movements are dance types of the time, and they are frequently listed by their French names: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, and Chaconne. The final movement is written in the form of variations, and lasts approximately as long as the first four movements combined.
Performance time of the whole partita varies between 26 and 32 minutes, depending on the approach and style of the performer.
Professor Helga Thoene suggests that this partita, and especially its last movement, was a tombeau written in memory of Bach's first wife, Maria Barbara Bach (who died in 1720), though this theory is controversial.
Yehudi Menuhin called the Chaconne "the greatest structure for solo violin that exists".
Violinist Joshua Bell has said the Chaconne is "not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history. It's a spiritually powerful piece, emotionally powerful, structurally perfect." He played the piece busking in L'Enfant Plaza for The Washington Post.
Transcriptions of the Ciaccona
Since Bach's time, several transcriptions of the piece have been made for other instruments, particularly for the piano (including those by Ferruccio Busoni, Alexander Siloti, and Joachim Raff), and for the piano left-hand (by Johannes Brahms, Paul Wittgenstein, and Géza Zichy).
Johannes Brahms, in a letter to Clara Schumann in June 1877, said about the ciaccona:
On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.
Carl Reinecke transcribed the piece for piano duet.
In the preface to his 1955 transcription, John Cook writes: "The Chaconne is sublimely satisfying in its original form, yet many will agree that a single violin is only able to hint at the vast implications of much of this music … It is perhaps not unreasonable to suppose that Bach would have chosen the organ, had he transcribed the Chaconne himself, as the instrument best suited to the scale of his ideas … A good performance on the violin may be taken as the best guide to interpretation on the organ — the two instruments are not without their points in common, and both were beloved of Bach."
The Chaconne is often performed on guitar. Marc Pincherle, Secretary of the French Society of Musicology in Paris, wrote in 1930: "If, insofar as certain rapid monodic passages are concerned, opinion is divided between the violin and the guitar as the better medium, the guitar always triumphs in polyphonic passages; that is to say almost throughout the entire work. The timbre of the guitar creates new and emotional resonance and unsuspected dynamic gradations in those passages which might have been created purely for the violin; as for instance the variations in arpeggi."
The most well-known transcription for guitar is the Segovia transcription. Many guitarists today prefer to play the Chaconne directly from the violin score.
There are a number of transcriptions of the Chaconne for orchestras of different sizes, including Leopold Stokowski's transcription for a full symphony orchestra.
In 2008 Arnold Steinhardt, the violin soloist and first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, published Violin Dreams, a memoir about his life as a violinist and about his ultimate challenge: playing Bach's Chaconne.
In 2017 Márta Ábrahám and Barnabás Dukay published a book about Bach's Chaconne: Excerpts from Eternity – The Purification of Time and Character, the Fulfilment of Love and Cooperation with the Celestial Will in Johann Sebastian Bach's Ciaccona for Violin.
- Thoene 1994; Thoene 2001; Thoene 2003.
- Altschuler 2005, 79, 85; Anderson 2002; Erickson 2002; Humphreys 2002; Rich 2006; Silbiger 1999, 374n34.
- Menuhin 2001, 236.
- Weingarten 2007.
- Schumann & Brahms 1927, 2:16.
- Leipzig: Friedrich Hofmeister Verlag, FH 3021, 3 Pieces from BWV 565, 903, 1004, Leipzig 2015, (Editor/Arranger – Johann Sebastian Paetsch), ISMN: 9790203430216
- Pincherle 1930.
- Berg 2009.
- Smith 1990, 243.
- Mastroianni n.d.
- Block 2007.
- Altschuler, Eric Lewin. 2005. "Were Bach's Toccata and Fugue BWV565 and the Ciacconia from BWV1004 Lute Pieces?" The Musical Times 146, no. 1893 (Winter): 77–86.
- Anderson, Rick. 2002. "Johann Sebastian Bach: Morimur. Hilliard Ensemble; Christoph Poppen. ECM 289 461 895-2, 2001." Notes, second series, 59, No. 1 (September): 145.
- Berg, Christopher. 2009. "Bach, Busoni, Segovia, and the Chaconne". Pristine Madness [Christopher Berg blog] (10 August) (accessed 20 June 2016)
- Block, Melissa. 2007. "Violin Dreams': Chasing Bach's Elusive Chaconne". NPR Music (18 January) (accessed 20 June 2016).
- Erickson, Raymond. 2002. "Secret Codes, Dance and Bach's Great 'Ciaccona'". Early Music America 8, no. 2:34–43.
- Humphreys, David. 2002. "Esoteric Bach". Early Music 30, no. 2 (May): 307.
- Mastroianni, Joseph C. n.d. Chaconne: The Novel. The Devil's Advocate (accessed 26 October 2014).
- Menuhin, Yehudi. 2001. Unfinished Journey, new edition. London: Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-6809-5.
- Pincherle, Marc. 1930. "Bach and the Guitar". (accessed 20 June 2016).
- Rich, Alan. 2006. "Morimur: Is There Sex after Bach?" In his So I've Heard: Notes of a Migratory Music Critic, 66–67. Milwaukee: Amadeus. ISBN 1-57467-133-2.
- Schumann, Clara, and Johannes Brahms. 1927. Letters of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, 1853–1896, 2 vols., edited by Berthold Litzmann. Encore Music Editions. London: E. Arnold; New York: Longmans, Green and Co. Reprinted, Westport, CT: Hyperion Press, 1979. ISBN 0883557614.
- Silbiger, Alexander. 1999. "Bach and the Chaconne". The Journal of Musicology 17, no. 3 (Summer): 358–85.
- Smith, William Ander. 1990. The Mystery of Leopold Stokowski. Rutherford, Madison, and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London and Toronto: Associated University Presses.
- Thoene, Helga. 1994. "Johann Sebastian Bach. Ciaconna—Tanz oder Tombeau. Verborgene Sprache eines berühmten Werkes". In Festschrift zum Leopoldfest [15. Köthener Bachfesttage] , 14–81. Cöthener Bach-Hefte 6, Veröffentlichungen des Historischen Museums Köthen/Anhalt XIX. Köthen.
- Thoene, Helga. 2001. Johann Sebastian Bach, Ciaccona: Tanz oder Tombeau?—Eine analytische Studie. Oschersleben: Ziethen. ISBN 3-935358-60-1.
- Thoene, Helga. 2003. "Verborgener Klang und verschlüsselte Sprache in den Werken für Violine solo von Johann Sebastian Bach". In AnsBACHwoche, Almanach: 25 Juli bis 3. August 2003, 22–35. Ansbach: Bachwoche Ansbach GmbH.
- Weingarten, Gene. 2007. "Pearls Before Breakfast" (article text only); includes video. Washington Post Magazine (April 8; accessed September 18, 2011).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to BWV 1004 – Partita No. 2 in D minor for violin solo.|
- Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Bach's Second Violin Partita by Dmitri N. Smirnov
- Bach's Chaconne in D minor for solo violin: An application through analysis by Larry Solomon
- Chaconne for organ on YouTube, arranged by W. T. Best, played by D'Arcy Trinkwon
- Chaconne on YouTube, Nathan Milstein
- Recording of Busoni's transcription of the Chaconne by Boris Giltburg in MP3 format (archived on the Wayback Machine)
- Partita No. 2 (complete), played on electric bass by Dave Grossman (audio and video)
- Podcast, Arnold Steinhardt discusses his lifelong quest to master the chaconne
- Partita No. 2, performed on guitar by Yaron Hasson (from the Wayback Machine)
- German article on Bachs Chaconne
- TV documentary about the secrets of the Ciaccona