You know my taste in wet, deservedly-obscure jangly indie bands, but you may not know that my favourite pieces of music of all time are J. S. Bach's Cello Suites, apparently written solely for private practice at the request of a pupil. Each Suite is based on the same tune, using the same forms of (originally dance) rhythms and styles: there's the Prelude, then an Allemande, a Courante, a Sarabande, Minuets, Gigues and Gavottes.
Benjamin, otherwise a very discerning chap and prize-winning author, was firmly resistant to my urging - it took a world-famous author, a professor of music and a PhD student (who fully deserves a scholarship for her part) with a baroque cello to persuade him of the Suites' worth. Giving him makes him a better human being.
My work with him done, I turn to you: listen to this, over and over again until you realise that this is definition of genius. Here's an extract from No. 4, my favourite. It's played by Rostropovich, second only to Yo-Yo Ma's version.
The Allemande from Suite No. 6:
And the ultimate, the sublime Prelude and Sarabande to Suite No. 1, this time played by Yo-Yo Ma and Mischa Maisky