Prelude and Fugue in F sharp major BWV 858 (The Well-Tempered Clavier, Part I)

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Prelude played by Kimiko Douglass-Ishizaka
Fugue played by Kimiko Douglass-Ishizaka

Prelude and Fugue in F sharp major , BWV 858, form a pair of works in the first part of the Well-Tempered Clavier , a collection of preludes and fugues for keyboard instruments by Johann Sebastian Bach .

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This is probably the first original composition in music history in F sharp major. In any case, it is the first prelude that is not already included in the piano book for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach , and there is no early version in F major for either the prelude or the fugue. The form of the prelude, a two-part invention , is unique: the keys F sharp major - C sharp major - D flat minor - A sharp minor - G sharp minor - F sharp major is run through in six similar sections. Each section begins with the broken triad motif, which is picked up by the opposing voice and spun on in syncopation . The last section begins in major, but then turns surprisingly to minor, which in bar 29, one bar before the end, is resolved in the highest register of the upper part with the major third.


The fugue is just as cheerful as the prelude. One searches in vain for “learned” processing of the topic; there is also no trace of a narrowing . The topic consists of two parts, which are divided by an eighth break. It is reminiscent of a folk song, although a symmetry is circumvented by the division into 5 + 4 quarters. The first counterpoint in bar 3 is replaced by another motif in bar 7. It dominates the interludes (also in reverse) and is reminiscent of the bass accompaniment of the duet in cantata BWV 78 , the text of which “We hurry with weak, but industrious steps” also seems to be entirely appropriate here. The absence of accidentals in the last five bars indicates that this ending does not require any tonal deviation, which underlines the carefree cheerfulness of the fugue; also that in the 35 bars of the fugue there are only eight thematic entries.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Benary: JS Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: Text - Analysis - Playback . MN 718, H. & B. Schneider, Aarau 2005, p. 51
  2. Hermann Keller : The Well-Tempered Clavier . ( Memento of the original from August 11, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF) p. 82 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Peter Benary: JS Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: Text - Analysis - Playback . MN 718, H. & B. Schneider, Aarau 2005, p. 52