The English Suites, BWV 806–811, are a set of six
suites written by the German composer Johann Sebastian
Bach for harpsichord and generally thought to be the
earliest of his 19 suites for keyboard, the others
being the six French Suites, BWV 812–817, the six
Partitas, BWV 825-830 and the Overture in the French
style, BWV 831.
These six suites for keyboard are thought to be the
earliest set that Bach composed. Originally, their date
of composition was thought to have been between 1718
and 1720, but more recent research suggests that the
composition was likely earlier, around 1715, while the
composer was living in Weimar.
Bach's English Suites display less affinity with
Baroque English keyboard style than do the French
Suites to French Baroque keyboard style; the name
"English" is thought to date back to a claim made by
the 19th-century Bach biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel
that these works might have been composed for an
English nobleman, but no evidence has emerged to
substantiate this claim. It has also been suggested
that the name is a tribute to Charles Dieupart, whose
fame was greatest in England, and on whose Six Suittes
de clavessin Bach's English Suites were in part
Surface characteristics of the English Suites strongly
resemble those of Bach's French Suites and Partitas,
particularly in the sequential dance-movement
structural organization and treatment of ornamentation.
These suites also resemble the Baroque French keyboard
suite typified by the generation of composers including
Jean-Henri d'Anglebert, and the dance-suite tradition
of French lutenists that preceded it.
In the English Suites especially, Bach's affinity with
French lute music is demonstrated by his inclusion of a
prelude for each suite, departing from an earlier
tradition of German derivations of French suite (those
of Johann Jakob Froberger and Georg Boehm are
examples), which saw a relatively strict progression of
the dance movements (Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and
Gigue) and which did not typically feature a Prelude.
Unlike the unmeasured preludes of French lute or
keyboard style, however, Bach's preludes in the English
Suites are composed in strict meter.
Although originally written for Harpsichord. I created
this arrangement of the Sarabande from the English
Suite No. 2 in A Minor (BWV 807 No. 4) for Oboe &
String Trio (Violin, Viola & Cello).