Bach's 'Well-tempered Clavier'


JS Bach manuscript


  • Intro

    This is the beautifully written manuscript of the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The piece shown here is the A flat major fugue from Bach’s famous collection 'The Well-tempered Clavier'. A fugue is a kind of musical chase between two or more lines. The first line starts; after a few seconds the second line joins in. This is slightly higher or lower than the first, but otherwise almost identical. A third or fourth line may join. The skill of a fugal composer is to make the lines develop independently, yet still fit together seamlessly. Bach was so skilled on the organ that he could improvise a four-part fugue.


    Bach wrote in a baroque style, characterised by simple rhythms, and steady shifts of exquisite underlying harmony. His work often seems to exist apart from any particular instrument, as a constructional idea by itself.



    Shelfmark: Add. MS 35021, f.14.

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