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The cello suites by Benjamin Britten (Opp. 72, 80, and 87) are a series of three compositions for solo cello, dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich. The suites were the first original solo instrumental music that Britten wrote for and dedicated to Rostropovich, but Britten had earlier composed a cadenza for Joseph Haydn's Cello Concerto in C major, for Rostropovich, in 1964. Rostropovich gave the first performances of each work, and recorded Suites Nos 1 and 2 commercially.
Cello Suite No. 1, Op. 72
Britten wrote the First Suite at the end of 1964. The premiere was at the Aldeburgh Festival on 27 June 1965. The suite is in nine movements, played without pause:
The Second Suite dates from the summer of 1967. Rostropovich gave the premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, on 17 June 1968. The score was published in 1969. The movements are as follows:
Scherzo: Allegro molto
Cello Suite No. 3, Op. 87
Britten composed the Third Suite in 1971, inspired by Rostropovich's playing of the unaccompanied Cello Suites of Bach. Rostropovich first performed the suite at the Snape Maltings, 21 December 1974.
The Third Suite is in nine movements, performed without pause: