Well-Tempered Clavier

Background: About the Project

What’s So Great About Bach?

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is a contradictory musical figure. Uniformly considered one of the greatest composers of Western European art music, broad audience reception of his works has generally lagged behind the admiration for his ...
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Re: The Well-Tempered Clavier

The Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC) is considered one of the most important keyboard compositions in the context of Western European art music. Bach wrote preludes and fugues in all twenty-four keys, starting with C Major and ...
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A Thought on Historical Performance Practices

Usually, when we talk about historical performance practices, we are referring to the performance practices that were standard at the time of a work’s composition. So for Baroque music (e.g. Bach), we consult performance treatises ...
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Back To Basics: What is a prelude and what is a fugue?

(Bach to Basics, if you are inclined toward musical humor) A prelude is what it sounds like: an introductory composition. There are no set forms for preludes, and we see a wide range of forms, ...
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Recordings and Commentaries

C Major P&F

These two pieces always strike me as appropriate opening works. The Prelude The prelude is unusual. It’s unquestionably written for ...
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C Minor P&F

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I generally find that each prelude and fugue pair falls into one of three categories: Clearly ...
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F-Sharp Minor P&F

Musical ideas from the F# minor prelude carry over into the F# minor fugue, most notably, the pervasive use of ...
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G Major P&F

I find that pairs of preludes and fugues fall on a spectrum from clearly musically paired to basically unrelated. This ...
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B Major P&F

On the spectrum of how closely related these two pieces are, I place them at one of the far ends: ...
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B Minor P&F

To me, the B Minor prelude and fugue go together as a cohesive pair. Unlike the F# Minor prelude and ...
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C-Sharp Minor P&F

These two pieces couldn’t be a greater contrast. The prelude is slow, lyrical, and somber; the fugue is relentless, featuring ...
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E Major P&F

I don’t often relearn pieces. The piano repertoire is so expansive that it’s hard to justify revisiting old works when ...
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E-flat Major P&F

“Joyful” is the adjective that comes to mind with this set. Both the prelude and the fugue are light, playful, ...
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A Major P&F

On the surface, these two pieces are contrasting. The prelude is calm and pastoral; the fugue is much more energetic ...
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B-flat Major P&F

This set marks the beginning of the end. We’ve almost completed the chromatic climb up from C Major and are ...
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B-flat Minor P&F

Each book of the Well-Tempered Clavier features one fugue that is just monstrous. In Book One, it’s the final fugue ...
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C-Sharp Major P&F

This set is short and sweet. The prelude is reminiscent of the famous C Major prelude from WTC I. The ...
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D-Sharp Minor P&F

Oof, this is a weird key to play in! There are lots of accidentals, and it feels awkward under the ...
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F Minor P&F

I first played this prelude and fugue when I was in high school. What an enjoyable set to revisit! Coming ...
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F Major P&F

What a delightful set of contrasting pieces. The prelude features calm counterpoint that weaves seamlessly across the three voices, while ...
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D Minor P&F

I never found this set that compelling when listening to the WTC and usually skipped it when it came up ...
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G Minor P&F

Trivia fact: this set contains one of Bach’s only tempo indications. The prelude is marked “largo,” or slowly. It’s a ...
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