Aspects of Unity in J. S. Bach's Partitas and Suites

Aspects of Unity in J. S. Bach's Partitas and Suites

An Analytical Study

David W. Beach


University of Rochester Press



This work provides new insight into the inner workings of Bach's Partitas and Suites, establishing various ways in which the composer linked several movements of a suite to produce a unified effect.
Musicians -- listeners, performers, and scholars alike -- have often felt a profound connectedness between various movements in multimovement works by the great composers. But sensing musical unity is one thing; showing it is another.
In Aspects of Unity in J. S. Bach's Partitas and Suites, David Beach examines many of the forty-four works by Bach in this genre-for keyboard, orchestra, and solo instruments, including the beloved solo works for violin and for cello-from this perspective.
Through careful attention to motivic and harmonic repetitions at various structural levels, made plain to the eye in numerous annotated musical examples and diagrams, Beach establishes that Bach often did link several movements of a suite in various ways, sometimes by overt but often by more subtle means. Aspects of Unity in J. S. Bach's Partitas and Suites thus provides new insight into the inner workings of these great works.

David W. Beach is a renowned music analyst and historian of music theory who recently retired as Dean of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. He co-translated Kirnberger's The Art of Musical Strict Composition and edited Aspects of Schenkerian Theory [both for Yale University Press] and is co-editor of Music Theory in Concept and Practice [Eastman Studies in Music, University of Rochester Press].

An e-book version of this title is available (9781580466479), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


November 2005
74 black and white illustrations
111 pages
8.5x11 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580462020
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS006000, MUS050000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Role of Repetition and Variation; The Variation Suite
Harmonic Plans
Motivic Parallels
Structural Associations
Keyboard Suite in A Minor
French Suite VI in E Major


This book, with its meticulous analytical graphs and learned interpretations based upon many years of study, is certain to be of great interest to Bach scholars and to students of music in general. --Allen Forte, Battell Professor of Music Theory, Yale University

This intense investigation of suites by J.S. Bach reveals his profound and prolific invention, of a kind that has fascinated composers, performers, and theorists for nearly three centuries. Beach is the ideal connoisseur to lead us through this creative maze, with his intimate knowledge of the music, his sensitive musical perception, and a rare gift for truly lucid analytical explanation. --Jonathan Dunsby, founding editor of Music Analysis and Professor of Music, University of Reading

An insightful study of inter-movement connections in the Bach suites--some of the greatest multi-movement works ever composed. An important contribution to the scholarly literature. --Carl Schachter, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Music, CUNY, and author of Unfoldings: Essays in Schenkerian Theory and Analysis

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