Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Well-Tempered Clavier

Dr. Bob Prescribes: The Well Tempered Clavier and Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues

Background Johann Sebastian Bach: Well Tempered Clavier What is referred to as the Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC) is actually two separate sets of compositions, arrayed as Book One and Book Two. Each “book” contains 24 sets of preludes and fugues: one prelude and fugue in each major and minor key. Book One is a mix-and-match collection that evolved from a series of preludes that Bach composed and compiled for his son Wilhem Friedmann in 1720. Over the next two years Bach extended and added to the collection, until – in 1722 – he went public with an album of 24 preludes and fugues.  This first collection of 24 preludes and fugues – “Book One” – proved to be so popular that between 1738 and 1742 Bach composed a second set of 24 additional preludes and fugues, which was issued as “Book Two”.  It was the WTC (Books One and Two) that kept Bach’s name alive during the decades of obscurity that followed his death in 1750. Throughout the second half of the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth century, the WTC was considered to be the basic manual for keyboard training.  Mozart was introduced to the Well-Tempered Clavier by his […]

Continue Reading