The little snippet of music you just heard, our “theme music,” is from the first movement, the Prelude, of the Partita Number 3 in E Major for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach wrote a set of six large works for solo violin – three sonatas and three partitas. The sonatas are constructed of contrasting movements with such names as Allegro, Andante, and Adagio.
But “partita” is a synonym for “suite,” and the Baroque suite, which is to say the suite in the time of Bach, consists of a set of dance movements. After the Prelude, for example, the movements of Bach’s Partita No. 3 are a Loure, a Gavotte, two Minuets, a Bourrée, and a Gigue—all names of dances. It’s important to remember, though, that these are stylized dances: each movement borrows its rhythmic patterns and overall character from a different dance, but the music is meant for listening, not dancing.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.