Bach BWV 924: C major Prelude – 12 Little Preludes

This prelude is from a collection of preludes by Bach called “12 Little Preludes”. There is no logic to how these preludes were chosen, because the collection is neither complete nor truly chronological. An editor simply picked 12 of them that he liked almost by random, and if you play them in that exact order they are rather boring.

That has nothing to do with Bach’s teaching. The editor himself was a very boring man.

These preludes have been used for teaching students for a very long time, and in fact Bach himself composed many of them or perhaps all of them for his students. Most likely they were composed for his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. The collection of music that he wrote for him is astounding. Unfortunately we only have some of it. A huge amount of the music of Bach has been lost.

Bach wrote a bazillion number of preludes, and the quality of them ranges from good to excellent to superb. The BWV numbers are simply an attempt to put all this music in chronological order. Those letters are the German abbreviation for “Bach Works Catalog”. In German that is “Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis”.

This catalog is better than nothing but can easily lead to the assumption that we have a very good idea about when Bach composed all his music, and that is an illusion for the most part.

For pictures I’m going to use the same set for each one of these preludes, because I spent a huge amount of time finding them and editing them, and I really like them. It reflects my feeling that a great deal of Bach’s music is like intellectual puzzles that fit together like gears, yet at the same time absolutely marvelous creations. There is a very good reason why every good musician on the planet studies this man’s music. It is as relevant right now as it was several centuries ago. The word “timeless” is overused, but in the case of Bach it is well earned here.

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