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Johann Sebastian Bach: WTC 1

Each of the two volumes of the Well-tempered Clavier contains one prelude and one fugue in every major and minor key. Often called “the 48”, or the “Old Testament” of piano music (the new being Beethoven’s sonatas) it is perhaps the most important keyboard work of all time, and something that every pianist and every composer must tackle in one way or another – Chopin’s obvious allusion to the C major prelude BWV 846 in his Study Op. 10 no 1 is but one illustration of this.
The preludes are very varied in style and often deal with a specific technical feature, while the fugues are remarkable for their wide range of contrapuntal techniques and modes of expression.
The title suggests that Bach intended a well-tempered tuning system which gives a single instrument the ability to play in all 24 keys.
The opposing system in Bach´s day was meantone temperament in which keys with many accidentals sound out of tune.


Sheet Music Downloads:

TitleASTKey Published Type Level
Prelude & Fugue BWV 846 No. 1 C Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 847 No. 2 C Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 7
Prelude & Fugue BWV 848 No. 3 C-sharp Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 7
Prelude & Fugue BWV 849 No. 4 C-sharp Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 850 No. 5 D Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 851 No. 6 D Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 7
Prelude & Fugue BWV 852 No. 7 E-flat Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 853 No. 8 E-flat Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 854 No. 9 E Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 855 No. 10 E Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 856 No. 11 F Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 857 No. 12 F Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 858 No. 13 F-sharp Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 859 No. 14 F-sharp Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 860 No. 15 G Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 861 No. 16 G Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 862 No. 17 A-flat Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 863 No. 18 G-sharp Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 864 No. 19 A Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 865 No. 20 A Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 866 No. 21 B-flat Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 867 No. 22 B-flat Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 868 No. 23 B Major 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8
Prelude & Fugue BWV 869 No. 24 B Minor 1722 Polyphonic, Piece 8



Posts in the piano forum about WTC 1 by Bach:

xx How are Bach Preludes and Fugues related?
March 04, 2011, 05:03:04 AM by musicluvr49

I've been wondering this for some time now. Besides the key signature, are there ways that the Preludes and Fugues are related.
Sometimes I think I may have found the same motive in both pieces, but then... I'm not sure.

Any ideas?


exclamation Schumann and his deep love for Bach (Well Tempered Clavier)
January 15, 2011, 03:15:25 AM by presto agitato

Robert Schumann had a deep love for Bach. He famously suggested that all composers and pianists ought to make Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier compositions their "daily bread". Said Schumann, "Let The Well-Tempered Clavier be your daily bread. Then you will certainly become a solid musician." That is to say, it should be studied (or 'consumed') everyday—thus 'daily bread'.

What do you think?




xx Mystery Solved!: Bernhard WTC progressive order list did come from Bartok!
January 10, 2011, 12:49:04 AM by anamnesis

Here's the list in question:

Have a look here:

http://www.serve.com/marbeth/fugues.html

Now here is a progressive order for learning the WTC (from easiest to most difficult). As with all lists of this kind, variations do exist, and I would love to see some different lists. (Hmoll?)

1. no. 15 in  G (Book II)
2. no. 6 in Dm
3. no. 21 in Bb
4. no. 10 in Em
5. no. 20 in Am (Book II)
6. no. 11 in F
7. no. 2 in Cm
8. no. 9 in E
9. no. 13 in F#
10. no. 21 in Bb (Book II)
11. no. 6 in Dm (Book II)
12. no. 19 in A (Book II)
13. no. 11 in F (Book II)
14. no. 19 in A
15. no. 14 in F#m
16. no. 18 in G#m
17 no. 2 in Cm (Book II)
18. no. 5 in D
19. no. 7 in Eb
20. no. 14 in F#m (Book II)
21. no. 7 in Eb (Book II)
22. no. 1 in C
23. no. 17 in Ab
24. no. 13 in F# (Book II)
25. no. 15 in G
26. no. 12 in Fm (Book II)
27. no. 1 in C (Book II)
28. no. 24 in Bm (Book II)
29. no. 10 in Em (Book II)
30. no. 16 in Gm
31. no. 5 in D (Book II)
32. no. 18 in G#m (Book II)
33. no. 24 in Bm
34. no. 9 in E (Book II)
35. no. 4 in C#m (Book II)
36. no. 23 in B
37. no. 3 in C# (Book II)
38. no. 12 in Fm
39. no. 3 in C#
40. no. 8 in D#m (Book II)
41. no. 22 in Bbm
42. no. 17 in Ab (Book II)
43. no 4 in C#m
44. no. 8 in D#m
45. no. 20 in Am
46. no. 22 in Bbm (Book II)
47. no. 16 in Gm (Book II)
48. no. 23 in B (Book II)


Best wishes,
Bernhard.

Bernhard  says he obtained the list from his teachers:

The list has been handed down to me through tradition (my teacher received it from her teacher and passed it on to me and so on – I see no reason to disagree so far).

I am not familiar with the Bartok edition, but I read somewhere in the forum that it is somehow idiossincratic and definitely not urtext (that is, it is packed with editorial performance directions – which to me says it is a very good edition to find out how Bartok played them, not necessarily a good edition on how Bach should be played, and as with any heavily edited edition certainly not authoritative in any sense). I would be very curious to see if his order of difficulty does indeed tally with the one I posted.


Best wishes,
Bernhard.

On the Piano World forum I came across a thread on this topic in which someone posted the Bartok list:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/1232619/Searchpage/1/Main/89744/Words/Bartok/Search/true/Re:%20pieces%20of%20the%20WTC.html#Post1232619

Both lists matched.

MYSTERY SOLVED!


xx Well Tempered Clavier - How to start
October 31, 2010, 04:26:46 AM by fleetfingers

I have been learning a few Bach Inventions and love to play them. I would like to learn some of the WTC, but I am not familiar with it and don't know where to start. I'm not necessarily looking for the easiest ones, but rather the pieces that are the most enjoyable to play and/or listen to. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks is advance!!!  Smiley

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