Bach started composing these works around 1703, while at Weimar, and the set was completed by 1720, when Bach was a Kapellmeister in Köthen. He was almost certainly inspired by Johann Paul von Westhoff’s partitas for solo violin, since he worked alongside Westhoff at Weimar, and the older composer’s pieces share some stylistic similarities with Bach’s. Solo violin repertoire was actively growing at the time: Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s celebrated solo passacaglia appeared c.1676, Westhoff’s collections of solo violin music were published in 1682 and 1696, Johann Joseph Vilsmayr’s Artificiosus Concentus pro Camera in 1715, and finally, Johann Georg Pisendel’s solo violin sonata was composed around 1716. The tradition of writing for solo violin did not die after Bach, either; Georg Philipp Telemann published 12 Fantasias for solo violin in 1735.
Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003
This sonata was later transcribed for harpsichord by the composer, catalogued as BWV 964.