Bach's unaccompanied cello suites

*Saffron Burrows, from Mozart in the Jungle

Some say the cello is known as being the instrument that sounds the most like a human voice, though I don't think narcism alone explains its power. Some of the most stunning pieces written for the cello are by Johan Sebastian Bach, the 18th century German organist, and, posthumously, one of the greatest composers of all time. Cello Suite No 1 in G Major is what you hear most often, but don't miss:

  • Suite No. 6 in D Major, especially the fourth movement, or Sarabande, and the sixth movement, or Gigue ("Jig")
  • Suite No. 4 in E Flat Major particularly the Prelude, or the first movement
  • Suite No. 5 in C Minor, particularly the Prelude

    (As you've likely gathered, Bach's cello suites are structured in six movements: prelude, allemande, courante, sarabande, two minuets, and a final gigue.)


Bach composed his Cello Suites around 1717 -- almost 300 years ago. Many wonderful cellists have recorded these over the years including Yo-Yo MaJan Vogler, and Jacqueline du Pre. Try listening to the unaccompanied cello when you are looking for calm, or maybe listen while reading, studying, or for inviting quiet-- but not silence-- into the mind or into your space. I should add that the Unaccompanied Cello Suites are a tiny fraction of what you should know about this great composer, but that requires a a treatise unto itself --- there is an entire world of 'accompanied' cello, including Beethoven's Cello Sonatas, and so, so much more to love. To quote the wonderful Amazon series Mozart in the Junglein a scene that makes you wonder if you've overlooked the sex-appeal of Johan Sebastian: I fucking love Bach. 

albumsAMRclassical, Bach, cello