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Topic: Beginning Bach ?'s  (Read 3520 times)


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Beginning Bach ?'s
on: July 12, 2004, 06:21:16 AM
I'm particularily interested in learning additional pieces by Bach. Have very little background with him. What would you suggest one start with, in terms of pieces that are truly representative of his style. I am interested primarily in the English Suites 806-811, 1 of the 7 Toccata's 910-916 and/or 1 of the 6 Partitas 825-830. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as well as any advise on practicing, learning...parts that present the biggest difficulty, etc.

Thank you so much.
S :)

Offline dlu

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Re: Beginning Bach ?'s
Reply #1 on: July 12, 2004, 03:58:56 PM
I would suggest Bach's two and three part inventions before you move on to anything else by Bach. Then after you have developed your technique (especially with the three part invention) it would be appropriate to move on to a Fugue or Suite.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Beginning Bach ?'s
Reply #2 on: July 12, 2004, 04:40:55 PM
I agree with Dlu.

Bach compositional style has two important characteristics that will help learn his pieces. He writes in counterpoint (different voices – rather than melody and accompaniment) and he works on motifs (strands of melody that are then varied ad nauseum).

So when learning anything by Bach I always identify the motifs and the motif variations, and learn them. The next step is to separate the voices and figure out which hand/finger plays what. Then I learn each voice separately. Finally I join everything together. If there are ornaments (usually there are) I will add these last. I have described the way I teach/learn them in detail in this thread:


You don’t need to go through all of the two voice inventions, or all of the three voice inventions, but two or three of each will give you the hang of it.

The French suites are generally easier than the English suites. Within each suite, some movements are very easy (grade 2 or 3) some are very, very difficult. So you could learn some of the easier movements before you attempt the 2 voice inventions (the easier is grade 5). I must say that they are not amongst my favourite pieces by Bach. (I really like the way Pogorelich plays the English suites though)

You can also go straight to the WTC after you mastered the inventions. I have posted  the progressive order of difficulty (in my opinion) of the 48 here:


The partitas are all beautiful. I much prefer them to the suites, but they are more difficult (not that much more difficult though).

If you can play a few of the pieces above, then you are probably ready to tackle any of the remaining keyboard pieces (the Goldberg variations, the toccatas, the fantasies, the Italian concerto etc.).

Bach rules! :D

Best wishes,

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline rph108

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Re: Beginning Bach ?'s
Reply #3 on: July 19, 2004, 02:30:59 AM
I'd say start with the 2 part and then 3 part inventions. Learn them in small sections. Hands separately. Bach must be learned slow because there are so many different things you have to concentrate on.
After learning a few of those I would recommend the prelude and fugues from The Well Tempered Clavier. There are many amazing pieces to play and the interpretations are endless.
If you still havent gone insane after playing so much Bach, you might want want to try one of his concertos.
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