Partita for Violin No. 2 (Bach)
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.
Performed by Ben Goldstein
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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.
Since Bach's time, several transcriptions of the piece have been made for other instruments, particularly for the piano (by Ferruccio Busoni and Joachim Raff), and for the piano left-hand (by Brahms).
Johannes Brahms, in a letter to Clara Schumann, 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.
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."
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.
- Thoene 1994; Thoene 2001; Thoene 2003.
- Altschuler 2005, 79, 85; Anderson 2002; Erickson 2002; Humphreys 2002; Rich 2006; Silbiger 1999, 374n34.
- Menuhin's autobiography Unfinished Journey, p. 236
- Weingarten, Gene. "Pearls Before Breakfast" (article text only); includes video. Washington Post Magazine, April 8, 2007. Accessed September 18, 2011
- Litzman, Berthold (editor). "Letters of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, 1853–1896". Hyperion Press, 1979, p. 16.
- "Bach's Chaconne and the Guitar". Cumpiano. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- Christopher Berg (10 August 2009). "Bach, Busoni, Segovia, and the Chaconne". Pristine Madness. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- William Ander Smith (1 January 1990). "The Mystery of Leopold Stokowski". Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 243. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
- Joseph C. Mastroianni. "Chaconne The Novel". The Devil's Advocate. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- Melissa Block (18 January 2007). "Violin Dreams': Chasing Bach's Elusive Chaconne". NPR Music. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Silbiger, Alexander. 1999. "Bach and the Chaconne". The Journal of Musicology 17, no. 3 (Summer): 358–85.
- 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.
- Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Bach's Chaconne in D minor for solo violin: An application through analysis by Larry Solomon
- Chaconne arr.by W.T. Best for organ played by D’Arcy Trinkwon
- Nathan Milstein playing the Chaconne
- 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)
- Violinist and author Arnold Steinhardt discusses his lifelong quest to master the chaconne; includes links
- Partita No. 2 performed on guitar by Yaron Hasson (from the Wayback Machine)
- Printable pdf file of an organ transcription of the Chaconne by David Rogers
- Bach Cantatas Website discussion on the Chaconne