Violin Partita No. 2
In this cello masterclass, Professor Mihaela Martin shows Rita Coimbra how to study the score and the knowledge of harmony by instructing her to follow her instincts, especially where the phrase expands and arrives at a cadence. By allowing intuition to guide one's playing can help determine character and sound.
Next, the pair discuss bowing and the temptation to move up the strings. Martin advises Coimbra to follow the manuscript regarding strokes and articulation and to reflect on the conventions of violinists during the Baroque era.
Lastly, the student is given tips on practicing efficiently with a special focus on the melodic lines to improve her understanding of the song's trajectory.
Follow your instincts.
Follow the manuscript.
Playing dotted quarter notes as intended in this piece.
J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 was composed between 1717 and 1720 as part of a collection of works for solo violin. Some believe the piece was in memory of his wife, Maria Barbara Bach, who passed away in 1720, although there is no clear evidence for this. The first four movements of the work are Baroque dance types: Allemande, Corrente, Sarabanda, and Gigue. Each of them is in a minor key and requires technical dexterity. However, the piece is most famous for its fifth and final movement, the legendary Chaconne. Nearly the same length as the other four movements combined, it is widely regarded as one of the greatest compositions ever written for violin. The Chaconne consists of more than sixty variations over a repeated bass line, and calls for remarkable expressiveness, intonation, and virtuosity. Performers and scholars have called the Chaconne “one of the greatest achievements of any man in history” and “a triumph of spirit over matter such as even Bach never repeated in a more brilliant manner.”
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Michael Martin’s feedback and comments.
Won second prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, which was followed by further main prizes in Montreal, Sion and Brussels.
Romanian-born artist Mihaela Martin is known as one of the most outstanding violin virtuosos of her generation. She began taking lessons with her father when she was five years old. Later, she studied with Stefan Gheorghiu, a pupil of George Enescu and David Oistrakh. At nineteen, Mihaela Martin won the Second Prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, followed by other prominent prizes in Montreal, Sion, and Brussels. Subsequently, her international career was launched after receiving First Prize at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
She has performed with leading orchestras such as the BBC Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Furthermore, she has worked with conductors such as Kurt Masur, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Charles Dutoit, and Neeme Järvi. Together with Daniel Austrich, Nobuko Imai, and Frans Helmserson, she is a permanent member of the Michelangelo String Quartet, which she cofounded in 2003.
Mihaela Martin is a professor at the University of Music in Cologne and at the Haute Ecole de Musique in Geneva, and has taught at the Académie musicale de Villecroze. In addition, she teaches masterclasses all over the globe. She is a regular jury member at important international competitions, such as the Queen Elisabeth (Belgium), Indianapolis (USA), Enescu (Romania), and Tchaikovsky (Russia).
Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in music history. His incredible creative power, technical mastery, and intellect have made a lasting impression not only on classical music but also on many different modern music genres we know today.
Born in 1685 in Eisenach, Germany, Bach was a member of a very well-known family of musicians. At 18-years-old, he began working in Arnstadt where he accompanied hymns at church. His professional career as a musician would follow in Weimar, where he resided from 1708 to 1717. Here, Bach would deepen his theoretical study of composition and write most of his organ works. Moreover, he composed preludes and fugues that would be part of his collection The Well-Tempered Clavier. After building a considerable reputation in Weimar, Bach moved to Köthen to take a new role as Chapel Master. Writing less religious songs and putting more of a focus on chamber music, his compositions from this time would bring Baroque instrumental music to its pinnacle.
From 1723 until his death in 1750, Bach worked in Leipzig. First, as Thomaskantor at the Thomasschule and later as a private tutor and director of the Collegium Musicum. During this time, Bach worked on creating a repertoire of cantatas for church and revised many of his previous compositions. From 1726 onward, his keyboard works were published. His death in 1750 came to mark the end of the Baroque period and the beginning of Classicism. For many years after his passing, Johann Sebastian Bach’s works were buried with him until they resurfaced many years later and celebrated for their musical ingenuity.