J.S. Bach – “Dances of sorrow”

Dance or tombeau?

In 1720 Bach wrote his Partita in d minor for solo violin. That was also the year when his first wife, Maria Barbara Bach, passed away unexpectedly.

The German musicologist Helga Thoene interprets the Partia as an epitaph to Maria Barbara, a monumental masterpiece in itself, full of hidden messages like alphanumeric code, symbolism and hidden chorale quotations.

Prof. Thoene  has a theory that within the theme of the Ciaccona Bach has hidden a numerical code of his wife’s name and year of death . The chords and melodies in the violin part derive from several of his own hymns, all with messages about death and grief but also about hope.

In this arrangement the chorale fragments are sung along with the violin part like pieces of a perfectly laid puzzle.

Put yourself into Bach’s head and listen to the Ciaccona like you’ve never heard it before!

The violinist Klara Hellgren is a member of the string quintet UppsalaChamber Soloists .

Ensemble Memento are and the singers Marie Alexis, soprano, Anna Zander Sand, alto, Fredrik Mattsson, tenor and Erik Arnelöf, bass, all of whom are members of The Swedish Radio Choir,

Together they perform Bach’s Ciaconna in this unique arrangement for solo violin and four voices inspired by the analysis of Helga Thoene .

The recording “Dances of sorrow” –
J.S. Bach, Partita No. 2 for solo violin in D minor BWV 1004  in an arrangement for solo violin and four voices

was released by Nilento Records 18th of November 2016.

Order the CD:


Bachs music is not easy to play and probably not easy to sing. This Partita must be a challenge for any violinist, something that Klara Hellgren showed that she fully mastered.

It is extremely beautiful and rare to hear this music performed in such a way.
Masterfully is the word that comes to mind. That’s right: masterfully.

-Blekinge Läns Newspaper

Listen to an excerpt from the record:



Photo: Tina Axelsson