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Suite (from the French Suite – “row”, “sequence”) – a cyclical musical form, consisting of several independent contrasting parts, united by a common concept.

It is a multi-part cycle consisting of independent, contrasting plays, united by a common artistic idea. Sometimes, instead of the name “suite”, composers used another, also widespread – “partita”.

The suite is distinguished from the sonata and symphony by the great independence of the parts, not such rigor, the regularity of their relationship. The term “suite” was introduced in the second half of the XVII century by French composers. Suites of the XVII — XVIII centuries were dancing; orchestral non-dancing suites appeared in the 19th century (the most famous are “Scheherazade” by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, “Pictures from the Exhibition” by M. P. Mussorgsky).

In Germany, at the end of the 17th century, an exact sequence of parts formed:




The suite is characterized by pictorial art, a close relationship with song and dance. Often suites are composed of music written for ballets, operas, and theatrical productions. There are also two special types of suites – vocal and choral.

The predecessor of the suite can be considered the pair combination of dances widespread at the end of the Renaissance – slow, important (for example, pavan) and more lively (for example, galliard). Later, such a cycle became four-part. The German composer Johann Jakob Froberger (1616–1667) created a model of instrumental dance suite: an allemand at a moderate pace and dicotyledonous size – an exquisite chime – gig – a measured saraband.

Historically, the first was an old dance suite, which was written for one instrument or orchestra. Initially, there were two dances in it: the majestic pavana and the fast galliard. They were played one after another – this is how the first examples of an ancient instrumental suite arose, which became most widespread in the 2nd half of the 17th century. – 1st half of the 18th century In its classical form, it established itself in the work of the Austrian composer I. Ya. Froberger. It was based on four diverse dances: allemand, chimes, saraband, gig. Gradually, composers began to include other dances in the suite, and their choice varied freely. It could be: minuet, passacaglia, polonaise, chaconne, rigodon, etc. Sometimes non-dance pieces were introduced into the suite – arias, preludes, overtures, toccats. Thus, the total number of rooms in the suite was not regulated. Moreover, the means that combine individual plays in a single cycle, for example, contrasts in tempo, meter, and rhythm, acquired a greater role.

Suite as a genre developed under the influence of opera and ballet. In it appeared new dances and song parts in the spirit of an aria; Suites appeared, consisting of orchestral fragments of musical and theatrical works. An important element of the suite was the French overture – an introductory part consisting of a slow solemn beginning and a quick fugitive conclusion. In some cases, the term “overture” replaced the term “suite” in the titles of the works; other synonyms are the terms “order” (“order”) by F. Couperin and “partit” by JS Bach.

The true peak of the development of the genre was achieved in the work of I.S. Bach. The composer fills the music of his many suites (clavier, violin, cello, orchestral) with such a penetrating feeling, makes these pieces so diverse and deep in mood, organizes them into such a coherent whole that reinterprets the genre, opens up new expressive possibilities embodied in simple dance forms , as well as at the very base of the suite cycle (“Chaconne” from partita in D minor).

In the mid-1700s, the suite merged with the sonata, and the term itself ceased to be used, although the structure of the suite continued to live in such genres as serenade, divertissement and others. The designation “suite” began to reappear at the end of the 19th century, often implying, as before, a collection of instrumental fragments from the opera (suite from Carmen J. Bizet), from ballet (suite from The Nutcracker P.I. Tchaikovsky), from music to dramatic play (Suite Per Gynt from E. Grieg’s music to Ibsen’s drama). Some composers composed independent software suites – among them, for example, Scheherazad N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov based on oriental tales.

Composers of the 19th – 20th centuries, while preserving the main signs of the genre — the cyclical structure, the contrast of parts, etc., give them a different figurative interpretation. Dancing is now an optional feature. The suite uses a variety of musical material, often its content is determined by the program. At the same time, dance music is not expelled from the suite, on the contrary, new, modern dances are introduced into it, for example, “Puppet Cake Walk” in the K. Debussy Suite “Children’s Corner”. Suites appear composed of music for theatrical productions (Per Gynt by E. Grieg), ballets (The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty by P. I. Tchaikovsky, Romeo and Juliet by S. S. Prokofiev), operas (“ The Tale of Tsar Saltan ”by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov).

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