Bach’s Chaconne: Midori at Köthen Castle

“Monumental” is a word that has been used to describe J.S. Bach’s Chaconne.

This is the fifth and final movement of the Partita No. 2 in D minor (BWV 1004) for solo violin, written sometime between 1717 and 1720. Emotionally, there is a sense of transcendence when we arrive at this mighty set of 64 variations on a repeating bass line. It’s approximately as long as the four dance movements which precede it combined. Nothing quite like it exists in any of Bach’s other solo suites.

In an interview, Joshua Bell once called the Chaconne

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.

In a June, 1877 letter to Clara Schumann, Brahms wrote,

On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.

Bach wrote the six sonatas and partitas for solo violin while employed at the court of Köthen in Germany. In August 2016, Midori performed the complete cycle at the Castle of Köthen. Her performance of the Chaconne unfolds as a force of nature:

Bach always teaches me to listen, to open my ears and open my mind.

-Midori 

Recordings

  • J.S. Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Midori accentus.com

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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