- Urtext of the New Bach Edition
- Comprehensive Preface (Ger/Eng)
- Includes notes on interpretation and facsimile pages
The history of the composition of the English Suites remains largely unknown. There is no unanimity of opinion even about the meaning of the name. Johann Nikolaus Forkel writes in his biography of Bach (1802) that the Suites were "composed for an English nobleman" and the title page of a manuscript which was owned by Johann Christian Bach does actually carry the information: Fait [!] pour les Anglois.
Other commentators put little trust in this tradition and believe that the Suites were more probably composed à les Anglais, that is in the English manner. But this interpretation is also unconvincing because the "reminiscences" in the examples given as proof are on the one hand too vague and on the other the passages do not come only from English compositions.
However not only is the origin of the name uncertain but also the date of composition. The only known facts are that the first Suite had already attained its present form at the latest in Cöthen (1717-1723) and that the other Suites already existed in 1725. But both dates have only limited value because the Suites could just as well have been composed several years earlier, perhaps even during Bach's Weimar period.