Date of Graduation
College of Creative Arts
School of Music
For over one hundred years during the Baroque Era, the suite was one of the most prominent genres in keyboard composition, and virtually every Baroque keyboard composer of significance from France, England, and Germany contributed to its propagation. While each of these countries developed its own stylistic approach to suite composition, it is also important to consider the ways in which these countries influenced each other and appropriated various aspects of one another's handling of the genre.;The Baroque keyboard suite represents the first large-scale keyboard genre to reflect a high degree of stylistic cross-fertilization between major European regions and beyond. Whether through a composer's individual travels, the transference of musical trends from one royal court to another, or the dissemination of manuscripts and printed collections, the suite was made to absorb any number of structural and characteristic influences throughout its development.;Individual keyboard dances and dance pairs, such as the pavane and galliard, had been in use throughout Renaissance- and Early-Baroque-Era Europe, but the suite served as an umbrella under which to gather a collection of these dances whose origins might lie as far away as the New World. As the Baroque Era progressed, the overall loose and highly flexible structural construction of the French made a lasting impression on composers in England and Germany, while the refined and tasteful compositions of John Locke and Henry Purcell in England made a skillful (if limited) contribution to music on the Continent. Froberger and his German compatriots then created a more rigid "core" of dances that absorbed many French musical concepts but also added a greater degree of German contrapuntal refinement.;Lastly, there are the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, which are arguably the crowning achievement of Late-Baroque keyboard suite composition. Bach was able to absorb the best of what had artistically taken place before him and employ it in his English Suites, French Suites, Partitas, and numerous other suite compositions. Influences and characteristics described in almost every section of the following chapters on France, England, and Germany may be found in Bach's works, and his suites serve as a brilliant summary of an era that for all practical purposes concluded with his death.
Armstrong, Robert Eric, "An Historical Survey of the Development of the Baroque Solo Keyboard Suite in France, England, and Germany" (2011). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 3023.