Eight Short Preludes and Fugues
The Eight Short Preludes and Fugues 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, based on certain unusual characteristics of the music when played on the organ.
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. Subsequent scholarship by Speerstra, Vogel and others has suggested that this collection was conceived specifically for the pedal clavichord, thereby making the stylistic claim of inauthenticity far less tenable. 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 Speerstra (see liner notes) on the clavichordistic nature of these pieces and a discussion of the manuscript indications.
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.
The alternative English title, "Eight Little Preludes and Fugues" ("Huit Petits" in French) is also common because Kleine means "little" not "short".
Performed by Steven Dunlop
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Bach, J.S. (1987), Eight little Preludes and Fugues formerly ascribed to Bach, BWV 553-560, Bärenreiter, pp. VI–VII, ISMN M-006-48009-8. The preface by the Bach scholar Alfred Dürr contains a survey of the literature on possible authorship.
- Scans of the Bach Gesellschaft edition of the Eight Short Preludes and Fugues: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Eight Short Preludes and Fugues played on a virtual organ
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