Partita no. 3 in A minor

Partita no. 3 in A minor

BWV 827 performed by Menno van Delft
at the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam

  • Menu
  • 1. Fantasia
  • 2. Allemande
  • 3. Corrente
  • 4. Sarabande
  • 5. Burlesca
  • 6. Scherzo
  • 7. Gigue

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos


From the living room out into the world

In his essay on playing keyboard instruments, Johann Sebastian’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel also wrote about the clavichord. The large wing-shaped harpsichord was “usually used for loud music”, whereas the clavichord was for “playing alone”. One of the characteristics of a good clavichord was that it should allow people “both to press the keys firmly and to stroke them, so as to produce all sorts of forte and piano sounds clearly and distinctly”.

The origins of this Partita in A minor lie in “playing alone” in a homely setting, as it is the opening work of the second book of music Bach compiled for his wife Anna Magdalena, in 1725. It is the ideal context for a clavichord. The music itself is also looser in form than usual. Not only does the work begin with a Fantasia, but later on there is an unusual Burlesca (from the Italian bulare: making fun of, mocking), with big leaps for the left hand, which is followed by a Scherzo (from the Italian scherzare: fooling around, joking). So, light-hearted fun for at home.

Later, the Partita in A minor, BWV 827, was published as the third of Bach’s set of six partitas (another word for suites). The second and third partita had already been announced in an advertisement in a Leipzig newspaper, in September 1727. Copies could be bought not just from Bach himself, but also from fellow musicians in Dresden, Halle, Lüneburg, Wolfenbüttel, Neurenberg and Augsburg. So it was not just music for his own living room, but also work he wanted to present to the wider world.

Thanks to modern recording technology, the clavichord has gained a new role. Menno van Delft – performing in Huis Bartolotti with no audience – can play as softly as he wants and still reach a wide audience. So although the clavichord may still be mainly for “playing alone”, nowadays we can all listen in from our own living rooms.

Partita no. 3 in A minor
harpsichord works
Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach, Clavier-Übung I, II, IV, Six keyboard partitas
1725-1731 (but earlier, as it is in Notenbüchlein)

With support from

Stichting Elise Mathilde Fonds

Extra videos

Clavichordist Menno van Delft

“My own conclusion is that most of the Partitas, including this Third Partita, come into their own best on the clavichord because of its flexibility.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    7 October 2021
  • Recording date
    12 May 2018
  • Location
    Bartolotti House, Amsterdam
  • Harpsichordist
    Menno van Delft
  • Director, camera and lights
    Gijs Besseling
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera, lights
    Nina Badoux
  • Camera and lighting assistant
    Eline Eestermans
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With support from
    Stichting Elise Mathilde Fonds

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