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Partita (also partie, partia, parthia, or parthie[1]) was originally the name for a single-instrumental piece of music (16th and 17th centuries), but Johann Kuhnau (Thomaskantor until 1722) and his successor Johann Sebastian Bach used it for collections of musical pieces, as a synonym for dance suite (see Bach Suites).

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote two sets of partitas for different instruments. Those for solo keyboard the composer published as his Opus 1 (known as the Klavierübung I). One additional suite in B minor, the Overture in the French Style (often simply called French Overture) is sometimes also considered a partita.[2] See Partitas for keyboard (825-830) and choral partitas for organ. The "Partita" in A minor for solo flute (BWV 1013) which takes the form of a suite of four dances, has been given the title "partita" by its modern editors; it is sometimes transposed for oboe.

Bach also wrote three partitas for solo violin in 1720 which he paired with sonatas. (He titled each of them by the German Partia, but they came to be called by the Italian partita, which was introduced in the Bach Gesellschaft edition in 1879, being the more common term at the time.[3]) See: Sonatas and partitas for solo violin.


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Audio files

Johann Kuhnau: a choral partita from 'Biblische Historien'. Here it is called 'Sonata 4' (a programmatic title is added). The tune or cantus firmus is the famous chorale O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden

About this soundDer todtkrancke und wieder gesunde Hiskias, 6,56MB 


  1. ^ Fuller, David; Eisen, Cliff. "Partita". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016.(subscription required)
  2. ^ Philipp Spitta, Johann Sebastian Bach: his work and influence on the music of Germany, 1685-1750, Volume 3 (Novello and company, limited, 1899) p. 156.
  3. ^ Ledbetter, David. Unaccompanied Bach, Performing the Solo Works. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009.

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