Tune of the Day: Minuet and Trio
The French Suites are six suites which Johann Sebastian Bach wrote for the harpsichord between 1722 and 1725. The suites were later given the name “French” as a means of contrast with the English Suites, whose title is likewise a later appellation. The name was popularised by Bach's biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel, who wrote, “One usually calls them French Suites because they are written in the French manner.” This claim, however, is inaccurate: like Bach's other suites, they follow a largely Italian convention. There is no surviving "definitive" manuscript of these suites, and ornamentation varies both in type and in degree across manuscripts.
The Minuet we present today can be viewed as an exercise in turning a B minor chord into a series of arpeggios that constitute a moderately fast eighth-note melody. The Trio that follows stretches out its melodic material more, and the movement ends with a final reprise of the Minuet.