Bach on Guitar

When I first approached Bach’s ‘cello suites, I listened carefully to Janos Starker and Pablo Casals. I tried to use their ideas as best I could on the guitar.

But the results weren’t good. I couldn’t reproduce the great-hearted sound I was hearing from the ‘cello. I gave up on the project after a few weeks.

Then, several months later, I heard Walter Gerwig delicately play some of the ‘cello music on lute. “That’s beautiful!” I thought. “How can that music work so well on the lute — an instrument that is even less gutsy than the guitar?”

The answer came: He’s not trying to make his lute sound like a ‘cello, of course!

It was a milestone lesson for me: Don’t try to make the guitar sound like a ‘cello, or a piano, or a lute, or anything else. Go to what is most beautiful about the guitar and bring that forward. Play as if Bach had written the music to showcase how beautiful a guitar can sound.

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  1. m78w

    Bach is great on guitar, very challenging at the least! There are some great arrangements, with good, logical fingerings, in the Royal Conservatory guitar series. Also, for pick players out there check out the Barry Galbraith 2 part inventions for 2 guitars, very cool stuff for guitarists in any genre.


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