Chaconne (Bach)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (arr Yasuhide Ito)

Subtitle: From Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin in D minor, BWV 1004

General Info

Year: c. 1720 / 1987 / 2017
Duration: c. 8:30 (1988 version); c. 11:52 (2017 version)
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Violin
Publisher: Bravo Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $180.00   |   Score Only (print) - $20.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (2017 version only)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Castanets
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone (2017 version only)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Chaconne is a form of ancient dance, one of many variations. Bach adopted the form and transformed it into a grand ten-minute masterpiece that features a solo violin. This work has seemingly inspired many composers after him. Brahms and Busoni, for example, have arranged the piece for the piano. There are also arrangements for string orchestras.

This summer, I myself have written an arrangement featuring the saxophone, too. This rendition for the wind band was originally written in 1987.

- Program Note by arranger

The Partita in D minor for solo violin (BWV 1004) by Johann Sebastian Bach was written between 1717 and 1720. It is a part of his compositional cycle called Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. The Chaconne (called Ciaccona) is the fifth of five movements.

Professor Helga Thoene suggests that this partita, and especially its last movement, was a tombeau written in memory of Bach's first wife, Maria Barbara Bach (who died in 1720), though this theory is controversial. Yehudi Menuhin called the Chaconne "the greatest structure for solo violin that exists". Violinist Joshua Bell has said the Chaconne is "not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history. It's a spiritually powerful piece, emotionally powerful, structurally perfect."

Raymond Erickson has identified approximately two hundred transcriptions and arrangements of Bach's Ciaccona.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

The 2017 edition can be considered the completed version, preceded by a version arranged in the year 1988, which featured only extracts from the original Bach piece.

A great number of composers have arranged the Chaconne the final movement of J.S. Bach's Partita in D minor for solo violin, BWV 1004 into various renditions. Some well-known ones include J. Brahms' (1833-1897) Piano for the Left-Hand, Hideo Saito's (1902-1974) orchestral arrangement, and in particular, F. Busoni's piano arrangement has recreated Bach in a hugely dynamic way. As far as these "arrangements" go, they were newly devised creations, while retaining the essence of the original, hence, leading to an attractive idea for me to create an arrangement that hails the colorful attributes of a wind ensemble.

The idea of using the trombone ensemble as the introduction of the piece was put forward by Kenichi Watanabe, an esteemed friend of mine. It inspired me to orchestrate the entire work utilizing, to some extent, Schoenberg's Klangfarbenmelodie (sound-color melody) with reference to Busoni's arrangement.

Moreover, this piece is created based on the golden ratio: the ratio between the minor and major in the beginning, the ratio between the major and minor part at the end, all contemplated to be close to the golden ratio (with the part leading to the major being almost half).

In comparison, various parts in the 1988 edition were shortened, in relation to the golden ratio. It featured a total count of 34 four-bar units. The original features 64. The 2017 edition, being a "complete" version in my terms, actually features 61, still shorter than the original.

This piece, including the original Bach piece, tends to be performed with a slightly heavy tempo. However, chaconne is originally dance music, and should be performed with a rather light tempo, hence the simplified design for the tempo of this piece.

This piece was first performed on 22 June 2017 at Senzoku Gakuen Maeda Hall, by the Senzoku Gakuen College of Music Green-Tie Wind Ensemble, conducted by Sachio Fujioka.

-Program note by arranger


State Ratings

  • Louisiana: V
  • Texas: V. Complete


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