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Suite in the Olden Style

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Bernard Salles writes: "Suite in the Olden Style for two double basses was written for, and is dedicated to, David Heyes and Ben Groenevelt. It is in seven movements, like the dance suites of the Baroque period which inspired the piece: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuet, Gavotte (instead of the 2 traditional minuets or gavottes) and Gigue. The whole suite is in a key that oscillates between D flat major and B flat minor, even sometimes touching on the dorian mode of D flat, with all the enharmonics which these keys, so full of accidentals, allow!

Prelude: a dialogue between the two double basses, a little like two people having a conversation, at times answering each other, at times speaking together.

Allemande: constructed using the imitation mode to accentuate the « old style ».

Courante: whilst distancing itself from the « alla antiqua » character, the piece is more rhythmic, with an ostinato of repeated notes for the first double bass and syncopated motifs for the second.

Sarabande: the piece settles into D flat major from this movement onwards, affirming its "old" character.

Menuet: a nice dialogue between the two instruments in the style of the interventions for two voices by J.S. Bach

Gavotte: with a rustic character, the gavotte again takes up the style of imitation between the two instruments.

Gigue: on a Sicilian rhythm, the gigue ends Suite in an Olden Style on a joyful note.

Suite in the Olden Style was premiered at St. Stephen's Church, Bristol on Monday 23 February 2015 by David Heyes and Ben Groenevelt.

Bernard Salles was born in 1954 and began his musical education in his home town of Perpignan (France) where he studied double bass, organ, composition and orchestral conducting at the Conservatoire. In 1973 he want to the Conservatoire of Versailles and in 1976, at the age of 22, he was awarded a double bass teaching diploma. Since then he has taught at the Conservatoire of Pau (South-west France) and played with many major French orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris and the National Orchestra of France, under the direction of conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Metha and Lorin Maazel.

In 1983 he began a parallel career as a conductor and was Music Director of the Orchestra of Pau from 1996-2001. He has directed the Orchestra of Pamplona (Spain) and is currently Music Director of the OSSO (Orchestre Symphonique du Sud-Ouest).

As a composer and member of SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Editors of Music), he has written over 30 works including two symphonies, a cantata, a psalm for bass and orchestra, a concerto for double bass and small orchestra, Rhapsody for viola and orchestra, Triptych for orchestra, Prelude for cello and orchestra, a symphonic poem for soprano, cello and orchestra, as well as works for chamber groups, and for choir and organ. His pedagogic works are published by G.Billaudot in Paris and his works for double bass are published by Recital Music (England).

In 2010 he began a series of short pieces for unaccompanied double bass - Portraits for Friends - dedicated to his double bass playing friends.


  • 1. Prelude
  • 2. Allemande
  • 3. Courante
  • 4. Sarabande
  • 5. Menuet
  • 6. Gavotte
  • 7. Gigue

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Cat No. RM783
Supplier Code RM783
Price £12.50
ComposerBernard Salles
CategoryDouble Bass Duet
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty level8, Advanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-783-0
EAN-13 9790570457830
Weight 129 grams
Published 10th May 2015
Availability 4 in stock
See also...
RM383  Danzon Mambo
RM684  Alkan Variations
RM780  Portraits for Friends Book 5 (DOUBLE BASS SOLO)