Orchestral Suite in G minor, BWV 1070

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The Orchestral Suite in G minor, BWV 1070 is a work by an unknown composer. It is part of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis catalogue (BWV catalogue) of the works of J. S. Bach, and sometimes called the "Orchestral Suite No. 5", but was almost certainly not composed by him. It is more likely that the composer was W. F. Bach. It is a French suite with an overture and several dances, which has a similar structure with the 4 orchestral suites known to have been written by J. S. Bach. Different from those by J. S. Bach, however, the opening movement bears a different form, and the entire work has one movement not in the home key.


Modern publications of the suite derive from a collection of manuscript parts prepared by Christian Friedrich Penzel, one of J. S. Bach's last pupils, in 1753. The suite was first published by the Bach Gesellschaft in 1897, in volume 45 of their publication of J. S. Bach's complete works. In 1950, Wolfgang Schmieder assigned to the suite the number 1070 in the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV) catalogue.[1]

Identity of the composer[edit]

Despite the inclusion of the suite in the BWV catalogue, the suite's composer is not known. The British musicologist Nicholas Kenyon writes that the suite is "certainly not by J. S. Bach", and that it is "likely to be by an unknown composer or possibly W. F. Bach".[2] The American musicologist David Schulenberg, who published a detailed study of the suite in 2010, also considers that W. F. Bach is "the most likely candidate" among the suite's possible composers, citing Wilhelm Friedemann's close relationship with Penzel, the copyist, and stylistic similarities between the suite and Wilhelm Friedemann's other compositions.[3]


This suite is scored for strings and basso continuo.


This suite consists of five movements. The description below is based on or copied from words by Joseph Stevenson, a music critic.[4]

First Movement: Larghetto - Un poco allegro (in G minor)[edit]

Unlike those from the 4 orchestral suites known to have been written by Johann Sebastian Bach, the opening movement is a solemn piece in the form of a prelude and fugue, without a refrain of the slow introduction.

Second Movement: Torneo (in G minor and in binary form)[edit]

The main melody of the movement has a dashing, rapid run as an upbeat figure.

Third Movement: Aria (Adagio) (in E-flat major and in sonata form)[edit]

The movement in the submediant major (subdominant parallel) begins with a recitative-like figure, then adopts a more measured, flowing style built on the same figurations.

Fourth Movement: Menuetto alternativo - Trio (in G minor and in ternary form, trio in G major)[edit]

The main minuet in G minor is heavy-treaded and the central trio is in the bright G major (the tonic major).

Fifth Movement: Capriccio (in G minor)[edit]

The concluding movement is a bustling piece written in a learned imitative style.

See also[edit]

J. S. Bach: Orchestral Suites Nos. 1 ~ 4, BWV 1066 ~ 1069


  1. ^ Schulenberg, David (2010). "An Enigmatic Legacy: Two Instrumental Works Attributed to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach". Bach. 41 (2): 46.
  2. ^ The Faber Pocket Guide to Bach. Faber & Faber. 2011. p. 352. ISBN 0571272002.
  3. ^ Schulenberg, David (2010). "An Enigmatic Legacy: Two Instrumental Works Attributed to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach". Bach. 41 (2): 54.
  4. ^ "Johann Sebastian Bach: Overture (Suite) for strings & continuo in G minor "No. 5" (doubtful), BWV 1070". Joseph Stevenson. Retrieved 12 March 2015.

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