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Topic: what is an "English Suite"?  (Read 1966 times)

Offline sprinterpd

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what is an "English Suite"?
on: February 10, 2004, 06:19:48 AM
What makes an English Suite?  JSB wrote a few, and always thought he cornered the market.  Then, the other day one came on my XM radio by someone else.  SO, I now assume that there is a defined structure or such that makes a piece an "English Suite".
Could someone elaborate for me, please?
TIA
Michael

Offline schnabels_grandson

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Re: what is an "English Suite"?
Reply #1 on: February 10, 2004, 08:37:52 AM
English Suite is just a title.  The English Suites by Bach and the rest of his Suites as well, were just a set of related pieces, usually all in the same key.  
You don't have to eat garbage to know it's garbage.-Old Proverb
A good composer does not imitate; he steals.- Igor Stravinsky

Offline erik-

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Re: what is an "English Suite"?
Reply #2 on: February 10, 2004, 12:06:28 PM
The English suites are mysteriously named because there is nothing English in those suites except maybe a prelude in one of the suites (so I read) whose structure have been found in Purcell's and other english composers' works.
The baroque suite often contains 6 or 7 dances, and at that time the dances were almost all French (Courante, minuet, gavotte, douree, gigue). Just a few were german (Allemande) and spanish (sarabande).

Offline anda

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Re: what is an "English Suite"?
Reply #3 on: February 10, 2004, 02:42:26 PM
the suites were written as dance music, and all (including partitas) include dances from all countries. what makes it "english"... one thing they al have in common is a well developed prelude :) the last (6th) suite has a prelude that's half of the work! also, the double on the sarabande as a variational form is present (i'm not sure, but i think none of the french suites have doubles)

if you have to analyse a english suite, i don't think you should search for links between dances, but rather analyse the character of each dance, and analyse the form of each dance (try the german methon - stole-stole-abgesang - works in most cases)

Offline bernhard

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Re: what is an "English Suite"?
Reply #4 on: February 10, 2004, 07:25:58 PM
J.S. Bach was always keenly interested in the music of his contemporaries. He would copy them, he would study them, he would imitate their style (hence,  the French overtures, or the Italian concerto).

The most accepted theory on why the English suites are so named goes somewhat like this:

1.      One day JS Bach was visited by an Englishman – a lover of the organ and of music. They had a grand time together, talking about music and improvising at the harpsichord. Later on Bach wrote down some of the improvisations as set of Dances (suite) and dedicated it to the Englishman. Members of Bach’s household and Bach’s pupils referred to it as the “English suites” and the name stuck.

2.      Amongst the music that interested Bach and that he copied were the suites of Charles Dieupart, a French harpsichordist living in England. Dieupart  was an acquaintance of the Englishman, who after his visit to Bach sent him a number of Dieupart’s music. Bach was impressed enough to use some of it in the English suites he was working on and modelled them on Dieupart’s work.

3.      No one knows who the Englishman actually was.

4.      Dieupart wrote six suites (all copied by Bach), and all open with an overture, hence all of Bach’s English suites open with an extended prelude (Anda is right: The French suites have no prelude). The presence of a prelude is not considered to be particularly “English” (And let us not forget that Dieupart was actually French).

5.      The English suites predate the French suites. Both were probably composed as material for his students. It is known that he used them as teaching material.

6.      In spite of the titles, the dances in the English suite are far closer to the French style than the dances in the French suites (go figure).

7.      Although Bach sometimes named his works “in the French Style”, or “in the Italian style”, they are actually a mixture of both, plus German counterpoint.

8.      Due to the loss of all of the original manuscripts for the English suites we don’t know what their original title was, or to whom theywere dedicated (assuming it was the Englishman). There are in all Six English suites (the same number as Dieupart’s).

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline eddie92099

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Re: what is an "English Suite"?
Reply #5 on: February 10, 2004, 10:19:17 PM
They are about as English as St. George,
Ed
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