The Bach Cello Suites – Peter Martens

Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008

After an absence of 12 years from orchestral playing, Peter Martens has recently returned to the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra as their principal cellist. He shares Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Solo Cello Suites which offer a guide to nearly everything a cello can do. Featured in ballet, theatre productions and many film soundtracks the suites have inspired cellists and audiences alike. At the time of their composition there were relatively few works composed for what was considered a solo instrument. Interest in Bach’s works have been piqued in recent years by Yo-Yo Ma’s global Bach project, where he planned to play 36 concerts, embarked on 36 days of action on 6 continents to conduct 1 experiment, how culture connects us.

26 June 2020 : Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008

Enjoy the rest of Bach’s solo cello suites played by Peter Martens during the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival:

Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007  – 25 June
Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009 – 27 June
Suite No. 4 in E♭ major, BWV 1010 – 30 June
Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 – 3 July
Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 – 4 July

  • Genre: Music
  • Format: Video
  • Duration: 30-45mins
  • Language: Non-verbal
  • Ages: All ages
  • Available From: June 26, 2020
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Composer – J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750)
Artist – Peter Martens (cello)
Producer – Dirkie van der Merwe
Video Engineer – Pierre-Arnold Theron
Sound Engineer – Gerhard Roux
Filmed on location: La Motte – Historic Wine Cellar


Peter Martens holds a PhD from Stellenbosch University where he studied in his formative years with Dalena Roux before studying with Heidi Litschauer at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In 1993 Peter returned to South Africa and occupied principal positions in the New Arts Philharmonic Pretoria and Cape Town Philharmonic before moving to Stellenbosch University where he currently holds the position of Director of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival.

He is a member of the Amici String Quartet, has enjoyed chamber music partnerships with amongst others, Leon Bosch (double bass), David Juritz , Benjamin Schmid, Sergei Malov and Suzanne Martens (violin) and Leslie Howard (piano), as well as having performed with the Brodsky String Quartet in London. With the Stellenbosch University Camerata of which he is the Artistic Director, Peter has also performed with Joshua Bell and Pinchas Zukerman. Concerto engagements have resulted in collaborations with a number of fine conductors including Victor Yampolsky, Bernard Gueller, Douglas Boyd, Wolfram Christ, Nicholas Cleobury and Jonas Alber. He has participated in festivals in Russia, Holland, Salzburg, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Portugal as well has having performed in the U.K. and U.S.A. Many South African composers have written for him, the most notable composition being the Cello Concerto by Allan Stephenson, which he recorded for Meridian Records with the Cape Town Philharmonic. He has recorded the Beethoven Cello Sonatas with Luis Magalhäes and the Bach Cello Suites for TwoPianists Records. His latest recording of Saint-Saëns and Vieuxtemps Cello Concertos with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra was released in June 2019 on the Cello Classics label in London.

After an absence of 12 years from orchestral playing, Peter has recently returned to the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra as their principal cellist. He is married with two children to violinist, Suzanne Martens.