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Apart from the heading with the numbering of the six sonatas and an indication of where the manuscript ends, Bach himself left no further specifications. Bach composed them for his eldest son, Willhelm Friedemann, who, by practising them, prepared himself to be the great organist he later became. It is impossible to say enough about their beauty. They were written when the composer was in his full maturity and can be considered his principal work of this kind.
The first autograph score—possibly not the original composing score—is on paper with a watermark that allows it to be dated to the period — Some of the movements had precursors either as organ works or chamber works: only the last sonata BWV had all its movements newly composed.
Although Hans Eppstein has suggested that several movements might be transcriptions of lost chamber works, the writing for organ is often so idiosyncratic that his hypothesis can apply to at most a few movements. Two movements are known to be transcriptions of instrumental trios: The slow movement of the BWV is a reworking of a lost instrumental work which was also re-used later in the slow movement of the triple concerto for flute, violin and harpsichord, BWV Bach , designated BWV a, is a reconstruction of an entire trio sonata for the same combination of instruments using the remaining two movements.
Some individual movements were associated with other organ works of Bach: the earlier version of the slow movement of BWV —the most elaborate and skilfully written of the slow movements—was paired with the Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV ; and the last movement of BWV was paired with the Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV One problem in deciding on how the collection came about is that many instrumental works on which the organ sonatas might have been based have been lost.
Corrections in the autograph manuscript and a detailed analysis of stylistic elements in the sonatas have led Breig to suggest that the sonatas were composed in their final state in two distinct groups.
The first group, consisting of the first, third and fourth sonatas, has first and last movements which have a fugal character and as close stylistic relation. The second group, consisting of the second, fifth and sixth sonatas where the bulk of composing corrections occur have a concerto-like form, with contrasting tutti and concertato sections in the opening movements and fugal final movements.
Even in the second "fair copy" produced by Wilhelm Friedemann and Anna Magdalena, Bach made corrections in three movements in the first, fifth and sixth sonatas. The two hands are not merely imitative but so planned as to give a curious satisfaction to the player, with phrases answering each other and syncopations dancing from hand to hand, palpable in a way not quite known even to two violinists.
Melodies are bright or subdued, long or short, jolly or plaintive, instantly recognizable for what they are, and so made as the ear soon senses to be invertible. Probably the technical demands on the player also contribute to their unique aura. In the two chorale preludes of Bach, the organ trio became fully developed into a concerto-like fast movement: they are written in ritornello form, with the theme in the bass as well as the upper parts, which are written imitatively with virtuosic episodes.
The first version of the slow movement of BWV also dates from roughly the same period: instead of the larger scale structure of the two chorale preludes, the musical material is broken up into imitative two bar phrases, often of bewitching beauty. Although no longer having any liturgical references in particular no cantus firmus , the sonatas BWV — preserve the concerto-like quality of the two Weimar chorale preludes; like them the manual and pedal parts are written within an idiom particular to the organ rather than that of solo instruments like the violin or flute.
They are all written in trio sonata form with binary and ritornello movements. Moreover, the collection of six sonatas for obbligato harpsichord and violin, BWV — seems to have involved a similar survey, recording all possible ways of writing for the instrumental combination.
There are, however, significant differences: the organ sonatas are conceived more in concerto form with three movements, whereas the instrumental sonatas have four or more movements like a sonata da chiesa ; the instrumental sonatas do not preserve a strict equality between the upper part—there is often a distinction between material for the melody instrument and the keyboard part, which can play a purely continuo-like role; in the instrumental sonatas, either part can be divided, with the addition of an extra voice or double stopping; while movements from the instrumental sonatas can be diffuse and expansive—possibly because more musical textures are available—movements in the organ sonatas are in general less concerned with texture, clearer in form, and more concise and succinct, sometimes to the extent of seeming like miniatures.
Probably the closest similarities between the instrumental sonatas and the organ sonatas occur in their fugal final movements in every aspect—texture, melody and structure. The distinction between sonata types was subsequently delineated by Scheibe, who introduced the term Sonate auf Concertenart to contrast with the sonata da chiesa see below , but there are as many exceptions to the rule as adherences.
One of the only features that Telemann adopted from the older French tradition of the trio sonata was the adaptability of the instrumentation. In Scheibe wrote that Bach "deprived his pieces of all that was natural by giving them a bombastic and confused character, and eclipsed their beauty by too much art.
In his treatise Critischer Musikus , Scheibe gave the following description of this musical genre, distinguishing between the a proper or genuine sonata and one auf Concertenart:   "I will first discuss three- and four-part sonatas, of which the former are usually called "trios," the latter "quartets"; then I will comment upon the others.
Both types of sonatas that I will discuss first are properly arranged in one of two ways, namely as proper sonatas or as sonatas in concerto style If they are not arranged in concerto style, one may introduce few convoluted and varied passages; rather, there must be a concise, flowing, and natural melody throughout First a slow movement appears, then a fast or lively one; this is followed by a slow movement, and finally a fast and cheerful movement concludes.
But now and then one may omit the first, slow movement, and begin immediately with the lively one. One does this particularly if composing sonatas in concerto style Should the trio be concerto-like, one [upper] part can be worked out more fully than the other, and thus a number of convoluted, running, and varied passages may be heard. In this case the lowest part can be composed less concisely than in another, regular sonata.
Firstly the limitations on pedalboard technique dictated that the bass line in the pedal had to be simpler than the two upper parts in the manuals. In all the other movements—in particular in the entire first sonata BWV and in all the final fast movements—the theme passes to the pedal, usually in simplified form stripped of ornaments; thus even in these movements the bass line is less elaborate than the upper parts.
Secondly the limitation to three movements, omitting a first slow movement, was perhaps a conscious decision of Bach. This style of writing would not have translated well to the organ: indeed Bach reserved such lines for the elaborate cantus firmus parts in his ornamental chorale preludes. In the sonatas for violin and harpsichord, Bach does not adhere to strict trio sonata form in the slow movements, where the upper part in the obbligato harpsichord part can be divided into two voices; and where the violin can fill out the harmonies with double stopping.
In the organ sonatas the harmonies are provided by the pedal and the two manual parts, which play single melodic lines throughout. To play an MP3 recording by James Kibbie performing on a selection of German baroque organs, please click on the external audio link.
Flute Sonata in C major, BWV 1033 (Bach, Johann Sebastian)
Apart from the heading with the numbering of the six sonatas and an indication of where the manuscript ends, Bach himself left no further specifications. Bach composed them for his eldest son, Willhelm Friedemann, who, by practising them, prepared himself to be the great organist he later became. It is impossible to say enough about their beauty. They were written when the composer was in his full maturity and can be considered his principal work of this kind. The first autograph score—possibly not the original composing score—is on paper with a watermark that allows it to be dated to the period —
Sonatas for Flute and Basso Continuo, BWV 1033-1035 (Bach, Johann Sebastian)
Flute Sonata in C major, BWV 1033
Organ Sonatas (Bach)