Prelude in E minor, BWV 855a

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The Prelude in E minor, BWV 855a is a piece for keyboard (harpsichord) composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. It features as No. 18 ("Praeludium 5") in the 1720 Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. BWV 855a may also refer to both this Prelude and a Fughetta in E minor, an early version of BWV 855, No. 10 in the 1722 Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1. Alexander Siloti made a piano arrangement in B minor of the Prelude BWV 855a.

Prelude and Fughetta[edit]

Where the 1998 version of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV2a) described BWV 855a as only a Prelude, based on its appearance in the Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach,[1] BWV 855a may also refer to both this Prelude and a Fughetta in E minor, found in a manuscript copy made between 1850 and the early 19th century, once owned by F. Konwitschny but later lost. The Prelude and Fughetta were published in Series V, Volume 6.1 of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe, based on various sources for the Prelude, and on the Konwitschny source (of which a film copy had been preserved) for the Fughetta.[2] BWV 855a is an early version of the Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 855, No. 10 in the 1722 first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier.[3]

J.S. Bach, Prelude in E minor BWV 855a, measures 1–2

Siloti piano arrangement: Prelude in B minor[edit]

Alexander Siloti arranged[when?] the Prelude BWV 855a for piano, transposing it to B minor.

J.S. Bach arr. Siloti, Prelude in B minor, measures 1–2

This transcription has been described as "perhaps Siloti's most tender and perfect" transcription.[4] It transposes Bach's original down from the original E minor into B minor, and the steady sixteenth note figuration that was originally given by Bach to the left hand is changed to the right hand. Siloti also adds a repeat of the entire work, in order to allow for a change of voicing where the melody in the left hand is emphasized.[4] The chords in the left hand are arpeggiated; however according to Siloti's daughter Kyriena (to whom the work was dedicated [4]), he would omit the arpeggiation on the first pass and restore it on the repeat in order to heighten the effect of the left-hand melody.[4] It has been performed by many pianists, most famously Emil Gilels.[4]

The Siloti version of this prelude is used as the accompaniment for a setting of Ave Maria for Soprano and Piano (2013) by Alexander Timofeev.[citation needed]


  1. ^ (BWV2a) Alfred Dürr, Yoshitake Kobayashi (eds.), Kirsten Beißwenger. Bach Werke Verzeichnis: Kleine Ausgabe, nach der von Wolfgang Schmieder vorgelegten 2. Ausgabe. Preface in English and German. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998. ISBN 3765102490 - ISBN 978-3765102493. pp. 375–376
  2. ^ Alfred Dürr, editor. Das Wohltemperierte Klavier I (NBA V/6.1), Bärenreiter, 1989. pp. 170–173 (Critical commentary p. 340)
  3. ^ Bach Digital Work No. 1005 at
  4. ^ a b c d e Barber, Charles (2004), "The Transcriptions", The Alexander Siloti Collection: Editions, Transcriptions and Arrangements for Piano Solo, Carl Fischer, L.L.C., pp. 11–13, ISBN 0-8258-4730-3 

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