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It is non-programmatic, the name referring to the composer’s location during its composition rather than to the content. In fact the piece grew out of one of the composer’s vocal works, In the sunshine of Bach.
First Australian Suite consists of three movements, each based on a different work by J S. Bach and each constructed using different principles. The first takes as its framework a canon from Bach’s A Musical Offering. Its original palindromic form is still there behind the enlargement and ornamentation to which the canon has been subjected. The second movement is based on the Fugue in C minor from the second volume of Bach’s The well-tempered Klavier; each voice is expanded into three staggered parts. The third movement contains many of Bach’s well-known themes (including that based on the letters B-A-C-H), which are combined contrapuntally and ornamented.