Preparing to Hear Masterworks: Bach Cello Suites
Summer 2023: Bach Cello Suites
J.S. Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Violoncello are cornerstones of the repertoire for solo cello. Brought to prominence in the early 20th century by cellist Pablo Cassals, they have shaped cello music and performance practice for generations of cellists. Ben Kulp will perform all six Suites on Saturday, July 15; this seminar is designed to enrich listeners’ experience of these remarkable pieces.
The Suites were composed in the early 18th century and were initially regarded as mere exercises written by a great master. If we probe these works more deeply, however, they display an abundance of riches.
- Greatly expanding the soundscape of the instrument, Bach has revealed previously unexplored sonic resources of the cello.
- While each suite comprises a set of stylized dances developed in previous centuries, Bach explores new expressive and structural possibilities of these archetypes.
- Above all, Bach has produced in these suites musical narratives of uncanny sophistication and power. He poses an array of unusual problems and finds solutions which are unfailingly imaginative.
This seminar will be a collaboration between Ben Kulp and Mark Nelson. In addition to playing individual selections from the Suites, Ben will demonstrate both various dance forms and different performance practices from the Baroque period. Mark will provide additional historical context, and he will present analytical frameworks with which to fathom these pillars of the cello repertoire.
No prior music experience is necessary, though welcome! There will be two Thursday afternoon sessions, before the concert. Class enrollment includes a ticket to the concert on Saturday, July 15.
Length: 2 weeks, 2 hour classes, plus one 2.5 hour concert
Minimum Enrollment: 6
Faculty: Mark Nelson and Ben Kulp
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