Eight Short Preludes and Fugues

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The Eight Short Preludes and Fugues (also Eight Little Preludes and Fugues), BWV 553–560, are a collection of works for keyboard and pedal formerly attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. They are now believed to have been composed by one of Bach's pupils, possibly Johann Tobias Krebs or his son Johann Ludwig Krebs.[1]


While originally attributed to Bach, scholars suggest that the eight preludes and fugues might have been composed by one of his pupils, Johann Ludwig Krebs, based on certain unusual characteristics and simplicity unusual to most of Bach's music when played on the organ.[2] However, Philipp Spitta noted that they bore the "stamp of commanding mastery."[3] Additionally, Sir George Grove wrote that "on stylistic grounds neither [Johann Tobias or Johann Ludwig] seems likely."[4]

Preludes and Fugues[edit]

These pieces came to be played often on the organ in the 19th and 20th centuries, and were especially useful as teaching pieces for beginners.[5] Subsequent scholarship has suggested that this collection was conceived specifically for the pedal clavichord, thereby making the stylistic claim of inauthenticity far less tenable.[citation needed] Several elements of the pieces, including the rolling of large chords, octave doublings and repeated notes, and the patterns of movement of the fingers and feet, the rhythm, and overall texture are idiomatic on the clavichord but make little sense on the organ. Performer Harald Vogel has recorded the collection on a pedal clavichord along with an essay by Joel Speerstra (see liner notes) on the clavichordistic nature of these pieces and a discussion of the manuscript indications.[citation needed]

These works continue to be performed frequently in Christian churches because of their short length (about 3 minutes each) and ease of performance compared to preludes and fugues attributed with greater certainty to J.S. Bach.[citation needed]

In order, the eight preludes and fugues are:

  • Prelude and Fugue in C major (BWV 553)
  • Prelude and Fugue in D minor (BWV 554)
  • Prelude and Fugue in E minor (BWV 555)
  • Prelude and Fugue in F major (BWV 556)
  • Prelude and Fugue in G major (BWV 557)
  • Prelude and Fugue in G minor (BWV 558)
  • Prelude and Fugue in A minor (BWV 559)
  • Prelude and Fugue in B major (BWV 560)


  1. ^ Dürr, Alfred. "Eight Little Preludes and Fugues formerly ascribed to Bach, BWV 553–560". Bärenreiter. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. ^ Hammer, Michael. "Who really wrote the 8 short preludes and fugues?". Pianonoise. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  3. ^ Williams, Peter (1980). The Organ Music of J. S. Bach: Volume 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 192. ISBN 9780521217231.
  4. ^ Sir Grove, George (1980). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Volume 10. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 9780333231111.
  5. ^ Arnold, Corliss Richard (2003). Organ Literature: Historical Survey. Scarecrow Press. p. 101. ISBN 9780810846975.

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