“What’s That Song With The Cello? . . . : J.S. Bach Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude in G Major

I’ve previously written of how the New York Public Library provided a invaluable resource in my early music self education (https://roymusicusa.com/2017/01/13/blues-for-new-orleans-duke-ellington-the-new-york-public-library-and-me/), Pre-internet, it was the only way I would get to hear musicians and pieces of music that I read about. I was reading up on Bach and was fascinated to learn that he composed a series of pieces for solo cello, solo violin and solo flute. Given that these instruments are for the most part restricted to single line melodies (yeah, the cello and violin can play two notes at a time but that ability is very limited), they are not the type of instruments typically featured in solo instrumental pieces. Those are usually reserved for instruments that can supply their own harmony like keyboards. So it was with great interest when I was able to take out of my public library a recording of a couple of the Suites for Solo Cello. The first piece on the record was the Prelude for  Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major and I was hooked.

I have since heard the Prelude thousands of times, often as background music in commercials for products that are suppose to convey some sense of class. It is ubiquitous. For a time it was my old Razor cell phone’s ring tone. Google famous cello tunes and it will come up as #1. The video below helps to explain why.

As the video explains, the piece itself isn’t very complicated but then takes it’s simple musical elements and uses them to create something much greater that the sum of it’s parts.

That famous cello prelude, deconstructed

Guitar arrangements (known in classical music terms as transcriptions) of the Bach Cello Suites are a mainstay of the classical guitar repertoire Below is guitarist Ana Vidovic’s performance of the Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude in G Major.

Ana Vidovic plays from the Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude in G Major BWV 1007 – BACH

This is amazing music that has and will stand the test of time. When the world is becoming a little too much I find myself going to Bach to convince myself that there is still truth and beauty and good.

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Posted in Classical, Music Appreciation and Analysis

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