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J. S. Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier. Prelude in D Major BWV 850. A Look BACH. The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, 846-869 . Completed in 1722 Composed "for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study”

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Presentation Transcript
a look bach
A Look BACH

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, 846-869

  • Completed in 1722
  • Composed "for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study”
  • Purpose was…
  • to demonstrate the feasibility of the "well tempered" tuning system that would allow for composition in every key and
  • to reveal how modern and progressive composition could be informed by conservative ideas and
  • to reveal how modern and progressive composition could be informed by conservative ideas
slide3
Form

BWV 850

  • This prelude is a playful and bouncy piece of right hand figuration above a pizzicato-like evenly paced bass.
  • To ensure that the piece does not get bogged down in a march-like 4/4 feeling Bach hides an off-beat melody inside the figuration that helps propel the piece forward:
  • A pedal point towards the end of the prelude builds up the tension which is then released with a cadenza-like flourish ending in what seems at first as a somewhat over-stated closing for such a lightweight piece. But as soon as we move on to the fugue it becomes apparent that these closing chords were meant not so much as the prelude's closing but as a transition to the grandiose fugue.
slide4

Harmonic Progression

bars 1 – 3d D – D

bars 3 – 6d D – A

bars 6 – 12d A – E

bars 12 – 14d E – D

bars 14 – 20d D – G

bars 20 – 22d G – G

bars 22 – 25d G – D

bars 25 – 35 D – D

phrasing
Phrasing
  • Articulation is legato or, better, quasi legato for the right hand. The left hand plays non legato; because of the obvious rests in the bass part, this indication is more important for the touch and coloring of the notes than for their actual length.
  • Due to the features beginning with bar 32 on – syncopated rhythm and keynote / leading-note / keynote (do-si-do) formula – legato playing is indispensable here.
  • At the same time, the newly created "tenor" should sound non legato. The "soprano" in bar 34 presents again the typical closing-formula while the simultaneous quarter-notes in the left hand continue the non legato touch.
suggested tempo
Suggested Tempo

The choice for the tempo in the prelude should be made after considering the following two aspects:-

  • The bass line is composed as a hidden two-part structure – this might indicate that behind the given time signature of 4/4 an alla-breve pulse should be made perceptible.
  • The treble shows a pitch pattern which is easily unmasked as an ornamentation of broken chords. A melodious treatment of this line would mislead the listeners who will expect a true melody which then does not materialize.
  • The appropriate tempo is therefore fairly fluent: fast enough to give the impression both of a half-bar pulse and of a non-melodious, arabesque-like right-hand patterns.

From Sigland Braun J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier In-Depth Analysis & Interpretation

suggested techniques
Suggested Techniques
  • Reduce RH stretching by moving hand side-to-side, bringing the thumb to the right as fingers 2, 3, 4, 5 are played; brining finger 5 to the left as fingers 1, 2, 3 are played. (hand relaxed & somewhat closed when large intervals are not used) (DVD #3)
  • Subtle amount of arm rotation (DVD #4)
  • Added cadential trill at end (DVD #5)
special challenges of the piece
Special Challenges of the Piece
  • Alternate fingering for the smaller hands
practice suggestions
Practice Suggestions
  • Listen to recording(s) every day (handout)
  • If desired, play through a couple of times to get acquainted with the piece before “getting down to brass tacks”
  • Make section 3 or 4 measures long (appendix A)
  • Plan fingering (use the suggested fingerings first and then tailor it to the hand of the student (appendix B)
  • Select the most difficult sections and work on those first (DVD #1)

Also DVD #2

presenters
Presenters

Marilyn Andersen……

Dr. Karen Bartman,

Suzuki Piano Faculty, Levine School of Music, Washington, DC