Bach for Unaccompanied Cello

  1.  Suites for Solo Cello
  2.  Partitas and Sonatas for Solo Violin

Clicking on the above links you will find downloadable sheet music of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s six Cello Suites, along with transcriptions for cello of his six Partitas and Sonatas for Unaccompanied Violin. These 36 cello-suite movements, together with the 32 violin movements give us a total of 68 movements, with an approximate playing time of 4.5 hours. This is a whole world of music! There are so many ways to approach it, so many ways to play it, and so many things that can be said about it …… so take your pick. All the following articles refer exclusively to Bach’s unaccompanied string music.

  1.   Style And Interpretation
  2.   Phrasing, Rhetoric and Sewing Machines
  3.   Bowings And Articulations
  4.   Rhythmic Factors
  5.   Extensions, Cello Size, Violin Fingerings and Thumbposition
  6.   The Different Movements
  7.   The Use Of Chords And Doublestops
  8.   Playing Bach’s Solo Violin Music On The Cello


Apart from Bach’s Cello Suites and his Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, here below is another interesting piece that we could add to our Bachian repertoire for unaccompanied cello: the first movement of his Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo BWV 1023.  This is a spectacular pyrotechnical moto-perpetuo movement in which the bass accompaniment is a simple pedal (“A”) that remains unchanged throughout the 1’15” that this movement lasts. This harmony is so strongly implied by the solo part that we can play the movement unaccompanied without really noticing the lack of the pedal accompaniment. This piece sounds more like Vivaldi – especially his Four Seasons – than Bach. The exciting “upsidedown string-crossing” effects so prevalent here are used by Bach also in the Prelude of his E major Partita and in the Chaconne from his D Minor Partita.

  1.   Edited Version
  2.   Clean Unedited Version


Dr. David Beach “Aspects of Unity in J.S. Bach’s Partitas and Suites” (2005)