What violin level should you be at to play Bach’s 6 Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin?

by | Nov 23, 2021 | 2 comments

Ranking the difficulty of the individual movements of the 6 Sonatas and Partitas by JS Bach

I’m including free sheet music, so you can get started playing right away

What are the easiest and hardest partitas and sonatas for solo violin by Bach?

Playing Bach boosts your violin skills. It improves your intonation, bow control and sound. Professional violinist study Bach’s sonatas and partitas almost daily throughout their whole life. At the same time violin players with a few years of experience can already play the easier movements.

Where to start playing Bach’s Solo Violin Partitas and Sonatas?

Here are the easiest movements:

Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 – Giga
Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006 – Bourée, Minuets I and II, Gigue

So what does easy mean? Of course it’s hard to give a meaningful performance also of these ‘easy’ movements. However, for violin players with less experience, it’s possible to enjoy studying these movements. After a few years of violin playing you might already give them a try!

If these are a bit too difficult right now, you can enjoy playing Bach by practicing the violin concerto in A minor or the double concerto in D minor for two violins.

Intermediate movements of Bach’s sonatas and partitas

These are a bit harder than the previous, mainly because the intonation is more challenging to get right, the string crossings are trickier, for some the tempo and transitions are faster and there are harder double stops.

Other repertoire you might be studying if you want to play these movements might be Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Beethoven Romances and you might have started playing a Mozart concerto.

Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002 – Courante
Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 – Allemande, Corrente, Sarabanda
Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006 – Gavotte en rondeau
Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 – Adagio
Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005 – Allegro assai

Movements of Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin for more advanced violinists

You can play this when you also play romantic concertos like Mendelssohn and Bruch. Of course the type of difficulties is a bit different, so it differs per student what repertoire they find comparable in difficulty.

In these movements we see more complex chords and double stops, rhythms, fast string crossings and position play:

Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002 – Allemande and Double, Sarabande and Double, Tempo di Borea and Double
Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006 – Preludio, Loure
Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 – Siciliana, Presto
Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003 – Andante, Allegro
Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005 – Adagio, Largo

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Hardest movements of Bach’s sonatas and partitas

Mainly because of the sheer length of these movements and the complex double stops and chords, these movements rank as most difficult:

Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 – Chaconne
Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 – Fugue
Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003 – Fugue
Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005 – Fugue

Disclaimer

I’ve done my best to give an idea where to get started and what the order is to study these works, but for each individual students it’s of course different what he/she experiences to be difficult. We all have different challenges and talents.

My online course and community of Bach loving violin players

In collaboration with concert violinist Antal Zalai, who made one of my favorite recordings of all 6 sonatas and partitas by JS Bach, I’ve created an online course and community. Antal made exclusive video lessons to teach ALL movements of the sonatas and partitas and students can send in their videos for feedback.

2 Comments

    • Zlata

      Thank you, Adam, I appreciate!

      Reply

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