Bach - Piano Music

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach seems to sum up human experience in a way that only the greatest creative geniuses are capable of. His sense of musical architecture and brilliance in working out contrapuntal lines stimulate the mind. But the music appeals equally powerfully to our emotions, and the dance element is never far away. Even if Bach lived before the era of the modern piano, his keyboard music belongs to the most essential repertoire for pianists.



Top Pieces:


Prelude & Fugue 1 in C Major, BWV 846

If Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier is the “Old Testament of piano music”, then this Prelude must be Genesis, chapter 1: In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth… Like the first verses of the Bible, it speaks a universal language, characterized by solemn simplicity and soothing repetitiveness.

Goldberg Variations in G Major, BWV 988

The relentlessly intricate architecture of the Goldberg Variations still engages scholars after hundreds of years, while the soothing, noble poetry and formidable technical demands of the piece continue to captivate players and listeners.

Invention 1 in C Major, BWV 772

Composed to develop a singing style of playing, Bach's Inventions are masterful miniatures full of charm and feeling, and a great introduction to contrapuntal music, where different voices imitate and converse with each other.

Invention 4 in D Minor, BWV 775

This invention is a great example of Bach's ability to mix simplicity with sophistication, extracting a beautiful musical creation out of an extremely basic idea.

Minuet in G Major, BWV Anh. 114

In the lives of countless piano students, this little Minuet has represented their first meeting with Bach. But we don't even know if Bach composed it!

Small Prelude in C Major, BWV 939

The most well-known of the "Small Preludes" is an excellent introduction to several aspects of Bach's music: the conversational style, chordal structures and his use of dynamic effects.

Biography

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685—1750) lost both his parents at a young age and was sent to live with his brother Johann Christoph, where he received his first musical instruction. 18 years old, he was appointed organist in Arnstadt, where the church authorities were confused by his "curious embellishments" of the chorales; their irritation increased when he prolonged by several months the leave granted him to visit Lübeck and attend Buxtehude´s concerts. He then worked for the Duke Wilhelm of Weimar for almost ten years, but as he didn’t get the promotion that he wanted he eventually applied for the post of Kapellmeister to the musically talented Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen. Duke Wilhelm was not pleased and threw Bach in jail for a month before discharging him.

In Cöthen, Bach completed many instrumental works, including the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier, and the Brandenburg Concertos. In 1720, his first wife Maria Barbara died suddenly, leaving Bach with four young children, including Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel. The following year he married Anna Magdalena, who was to bear him a further 13, of whom ten died in infancy. When Prince Leopold married, the good times in Cöthen ended, as his wife resented his preoccupation with music. This led Bach to apply for the post of Thomaskantor at Leipzig, where during his first five years Bach completed three annual cycles of cantatas, the St John (1724) and St Matthew (1727) Passions, and many other sacred works. How he was able to stay on this exalted level of creativity for so long remains a mystery, as his resources actually were quite limited: when he set out his minimum requirements for a well-regulated church music, he received in response from the church authorities only a threat to reduce his salary.

During his last years Bach created works of a somewhat abstract and general nature. The B minor Mass is an exemplar of the mastery he had attained in all the main sacred genres, while pieces like the Goldberg Variations and the Variations for organ on Vom Himmel hoch explore canonic writing. The Art of Fugue, a vast compendium of contrapuntal techniques, remained unfinished. Towards the end of his life Bach went blind. A contemporary newspaper reported that the cause of his death at age 65 was "from the unhappy consequences of a very unsuccessful eye operation", performed by the British surgeon John Taylor.


Quotes by Bach

"Like all music, the figured bass should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the recreation of the soul; where this is not kept in mind there is no true music, but only an infernal clamour and ranting."

Quotes about Bach

"I think that if I were required to spend the rest of my life on a desert island, and to listen to or play the music of any one composer during all that time, that composer would almost certainly be Bach. I really can't think of any other music which is so all-encompassing, which moves me so deeply and so consistently, and which, to use a rather imprecise word, is valuable beyond all of its skill and brilliance for something more meaningful than that – its humanity." (Glenn Gould)

"Not brook, but ocean should be his name (Beethoven; Bach is the German word for brook)

"Since the best man [Telemann] could not be obtained, we were forced to fall back on mediocrities." (Statement of the Leipzig City Council when Bach was appointed Thomaskantor)

Bach Piano Sheet Music

for digital devices or to download & print

Total pieces by Bach: 140

ID:1
TitleKey YearLevel

Most popular pieces:

Prelude & Fugue 1 BWV 846C Major 17228
Goldberg Variations BWV 988G Major 17418+
Invention 1 BWV 772C Major 17235
Invention 4 BWV 775D Minor 17235
Minuet BWV Anh. 114G Major 17252
Small Prelude BWV 939C Major 17273

Inventions

Invention 1 BWV 772C Major 17235
Invention 2 BWV 773C Minor 17235
Invention 3 BWV 774D Major 17235
Invention 4 BWV 775D Minor 17235
Invention 5 BWV 776E-flat Major 17235
Invention 6 BWV 777E Major 17235
Invention 7 BWV 778E Minor 17236
Invention 8 BWV 779F Major 17236
Invention 9 BWV 780F Minor 17236
Invention 10 BWV 781G Major 17236
Invention 11 BWV 782G Minor 17236
Invention 12 BWV 783A Major 17236
Invention 13 BWV 784A Minor 17236
Invention 14 BWV 785B-flat Major 17236
Invention 15 BWV 786B Minor 17236

Sinfonias

Sinfonia 1 BWV 787C Major 17236
Sinfonia 2 BWV 788C Minor 17236
Sinfonia 3 BWV 789D Major 17236
Sinfonia 4 BWV 790D Minor 17236
Sinfonia 5 BWV 791E-flat Major 17236
Sinfonia 6 BWV 792E Major 17236
Sinfonia 7 BWV 793E Minor 17236
Sinfonia 8 BWV 794F Major 17236
Sinfonia 9 BWV 795F Minor 17236
Sinfonia 10 BWV 796G Major 17236
Sinfonia 11 BWV 797G Minor 17237
Sinfonia 12 BWV 798A Major 17237
Sinfonia 13 BWV 799A Minor 17237
Sinfonia 14 BWV 800B-flat Major 17237
Sinfonia 15 BWV 801B Minor 17237

The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1

Prelude & Fugue 1 BWV 846C Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 2 BWV 847C Minor 17227
Prelude & Fugue 3 BWV 848C-sharp Major 17227
Prelude & Fugue 4 BWV 849C-sharp Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 5 BWV 850D Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 6 BWV 851D Minor 17227
Prelude & Fugue 7 BWV 852E-flat Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 8 BWV 853E-flat Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 9 BWV 854E Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 10 BWV 855E Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 11 BWV 856F Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 12 BWV 857F Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 13 BWV 858F-sharp Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 14 BWV 859F-sharp Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 15 BWV 860G Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 16 BWV 861G Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 17 BWV 862A-flat Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 18 BWV 863G-sharp Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 19 BWV 864A Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 20 BWV 865A Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 21 BWV 866B-flat Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 22 BWV 867B-flat Minor 17228
Prelude & Fugue 23 BWV 868B Major 17228
Prelude & Fugue 24 BWV 869B Minor 17228

English Suites

English Suite 1 BWV 806A Major 17228+
English Suite 2 BWV 807A Minor 17228+
English Suite 3 BWV 808G Minor 17228+
English Suite 4 BWV 809F Major 17228+
English Suite 5 BWV 810E Minor 17228+
English Suite 6 BWV 811D Minor 17228+

French Suites

French Suite 1 BWV 812D Minor 17228
French Suite 2 BWV 813C Minor 17228
French Suite 3 BWV 814B Minor 17228
French Suite 4 BWV 815E-flat Major 17228
French Suite 5 BWV 816G Major 17228
French Suite 6 BWV 817E Major 17228

Partitas

Partita 1 BWV 825B-flat Major 17318+
Partita 2 BWV 826C Minor 17318+
Partita 3 BWV 827A Minor 17318+
Partita 4 BWV 828D Major 17318+
Partita 5 BWV 829G Major 17318+
Partita 6 BWV 830E Minor 17318+

Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach

March BWV Anh. 127E-flat Major 17254
March BWV Anh. 122D Major 17252
Minuet BWV Anh. 116G Major 17253
Minuet BWV Anh. 114G Major 17252
Minuet BWV Anh. 115G Minor 17252
Musette BWV Anh. 126D Major 17252

Concertos

Keyboard Concerto BWV 1052D Minor -8+

The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2

Prelude & Fugue 1 BWV 870C Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 2 BWV 871C Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 3 BWV 872C-sharp Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 4 BWV 873C-sharp Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 5 BWV 874D Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 6 BWV 875D Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 7 BWV 876E-flat Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 8 BWV 877D-sharp Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 9 BWV 878E Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 10 BWV 879E Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 11 BWV 880F Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 12 BWV 881F Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 13 BWV 882F-sharp Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 14 BWV 883F-sharp Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 15 BWV 884G Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 16 BWV 885G Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 17 BWV 886A-flat Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 18 BWV 887G-sharp Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 19 BWV 888A Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 20 BWV 889A Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 21 BWV 890B-flat Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 22 BWV 891B-flat Minor 17388
Prelude & Fugue 23 BWV 892B Major 17388
Prelude & Fugue 24 BWV 893B Minor 17388

Concerto Transcriptions

Vivaldi: Violin Concerto op. 3 no. 9 BWV 972D Major 17146
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto op. 7 no. 2 BWV 973G Major 17146
Marcello: Oboe Concerto BWV 974D Minor 17147
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto op. 4 no. 6 BWV 975G Minor 17146
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto op. 3 no. 12 BWV 976C Major 17146
Concerto Transcription - unknown source BWV 977C Major 17146
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto op. 3 no. 3 BWV 978F Major 17147
Torelli: Violin Concerto BWV 979B Minor 17147
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto op. 4 no. 1 BWV 980G Major 17148
Marcello: Concerto op. 1 no. 2 BWV 981C Minor 17147
Johann Ernst: Violin Concerto op. 1 no. 1 BWV 982B-flat Major 17148
Concerto Transcription - unknown source BWV 983G Minor 17148+
Johann Ernst: Concerto BWV 984C Major 17148
Telemann: Violin Concerto BWV 985G Minor 17147
Concerto Transcription - unknown source BWV 986G Major 17147
Johann Ernst: Violin Concerto op. 1 no. 4 BWV 987D Minor 17148+

Miscellaneous pieces

Bourrée E Minor -3
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring BWV 147G Major 17237
Overture in the French Style BWV 831B Minor 17358+
Prelude & Fugue BWV 894A Minor 17088+
Prelude & Fughetta BWV 901F Major 17087
Prelude & Fughetta BWV 902G Major 17087
Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue BWV 903D Minor 17208+
Fantasia & Fugue BWV 904A Minor 17258+
Fantasia & Fugue BWV 906C Minor 17388+
Fantasia BWV 917G Minor 17388+
Fantasia on a Rondo BWV 918C Minor 17388+
Fantasia BWV 919C Minor -6
Prelude (Fantasia) BWV 922A Minor -8+
Small Prelude BWV 939C Major 17273
Fugue BWV 946C Major 17088+
Fugue BWV 947A Minor -8+
Fugue in D minor BWV 948D Minor -8+
Fugue in A Major on a Theme by Albinoni BWV 950A Major 17108+
Italian Concerto BWV 971F Major 17358
Goldberg Variations BWV 988G Major 17418+
The Art of Fugue BWV 1080D Minor 17498+


Forum posts about Johann Sebastian Bach

How to Approach Learning Bach by bwl_13
I have a really tough time learning Bach. I've been always practicing at least one Bach piece for the past 3 years, but it just feels so...

Struggling immensely trying to sight read Bach chorales by ranjit
I've been getting very frustrated trying to get better at reading Bach chorales. I've  spent over a month wrestling with them, ...

A Year on One Composer by brogers70
Has anybody here experimented with devoting a full year to just one composer? This is not something I'd do if I were just beginning, bu...

I'm stressed and need some advice (Tell the whole story in the post) by pierusskiy
Hi! I’m a 18 turn 19 years old piano student outside the music college, conservatory and any music school. I have a private teacher, but...

The Eternal Debate: Bach vs Rach by the89thkey
This is a debate that has been going on with myself and a few other users in certain forums lately. ;)...

Creative ways to introduce Bach by pianistimo
OK this question is more in the range of students 12 and older.  Typically, students are introduced to 2 and 3 part inventions - but wh...

Playing Bach like Mozart by kghayesh
I am kinnda confused about how to interpret and play Bach on the piano. I don't know whether I should approach the score romantically (...

Authentic Bach - Role of correct temperament? by xvimbi
Discussions can get heated when it comes to how one best performs Bach in an "authentic" way. Often, people argue about pedaling o...

Bach Technique by MikeLauwrie
Right well I'm learning movement's 4 and 5 from Bach's 2nd Partita. I have to for an exam. I don't usually play anything earlier than Beet...

What about the use of the right pedal in Bach? by la_carrenio2003
Are you at the side of Richter's and Schiff's Bach "pianistic" playing or are you from those who want to imitate the sound of the ...