List of keyboard and lute compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach

Keyboard and Lute Works is the topic of the fifth series of the New Bach Edition.[1]

Keyboard Works (Klavierwerke) by Johann Sebastian Bach traditionally refers to the Nos. 772 to 994, Chapter 8 in the BWV catalogue, listing compositions for a solo keyboard instrument like the harpsichord or the clavichord. Despite the fact that organ is also a keyboard instrument, and that in Bach's time the distinction wasn't always made whether a keyboard composition was for organ or another keyboard instrument, Wolfgang Schmieder ranged organ compositions in a separate section of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (Nos. 525-771). Also other compositions for keyboard, like compositions for lute-harpsichord and fortepiano were listed outside the "Klavierwerke" range by Schmieder. Lute works are in the range 995–1000, Chapter 9 in the BWV catalogue.[2]

Bach was a prodigious talent at the keyboard, well known during his lifetime for both his technical and improvisational abilities.[3] Many of Bach's keyboard works started out as improvisations. Bach wrote widely for the harpsichord, producing numerous inventions, suites, fugues, partitas, overtures, as well as keyboard arrangements of concerto music by his contemporaries. The fortepiano is an instrument Bach would have encountered once, by the end of his life when it was recently invented, while visiting his son in Potsdam. The visit resulted in Das Musikalische Opfer, parts of which may have been intended for the new instrument.

Several of Bach's works for keyboard were published in print in his own lifetime. Four such publications were given the name Clavier-Übung (Keyboard Practice) by the composer. Bach was not the first to use that name, for example Bach's Leipzig predecessor Johann Kuhnau had used it for two volumes published in the late 17th century. The first volume, Bach's Opus 1, was published in 1731, while the last was published a decade later. The first, second and last volume contain music written for harpsichord, while the third was written for the organ, only four duets contained in that volume ending up in the BWV 772–994 range.

The Well-Tempered Clavier, a collection of forty-eight Preludes and Fugues, was not printed until half a century after Bach's death, although it had circulated in manuscript form before that. Before the extensive rediscovery of his works in the nineteenth century, Bach was known almost exclusively through his music for the keyboard, in particular his highly influential Well-Tempered Clavier, which were regularly assigned as part of musicians' training. Composers and performers such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Camille Saint-Saëns first showed off their skills as child prodigies playing the entire cycle of Bach's forty-eight Preludes and Fugues.

Modern composers have continued to draw inspiration from Bach's keyboard output. Dmitri Shostakovich, for example, wrote his own set of Preludes and Fugues after the Bach model. Jazz musicians and composers, in particular, have been drawn to the contrapuntal style, harmonic expansion and rhythmic expression of Bach's compositions, especially the works for keyboard.

The first section below lists all compositions in the BWV 772–994 range, then follows a section listing other compositions for keyboard instruments, excluding the organ.

After the composer's death most of his keyboard compositions, and many others, are, or were, often performed on the piano, played either directly from a score for the instruments as the composer knew them, or from a score that was a transcription for piano. The latter is sometimes needed even for harpsichord scores while for instance a composition intended for a two-manual harpsichord (like the Goldberg Variations) can present difficulties for the crossing of hands when performed on a single-keyboard instrument like the piano. Some of the transposers/arrangers of Bach's work added their own inspiration, like Busoni in his arrangement and expansion of Bach's Chromatische Fantasie und Fuge, BWV 903. The fourth section of this list refers to such transcriptions and arrangements for the piano.

Works for keyboard (BWV 772–994)

Inventions and Sinfonias (772–801)

Four Duets from Clavier-Übung III (802–805)

English Suites (806–811)

French Suites (812–817)

Miscellaneous suites (818–824)

Partitas for keyboard (published as Clavier-Übung I) (825–830)

French Overture, from Clavier-Übung II (831)

Suites and suite movements (832–845)

The Well-Tempered Clavier (846–893)

Preludes and fugues, toccatas and fantasias (894–923)

Fantasy in C minor, BWV 906
Performed by Martha Goldstein

Toccata in D major, BWV 912
Performed on a piano by Randolph Hokanson

Praeludium in A minor, BWV 922
Performed by Sylvia Kind

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Nine Little Preludes from Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's Klavierbüchlein (924–932)

Indicated as "Neun kleine Präludien aus dem Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach" (nine little preludes from the keyboard-booklet for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach) in the Bach-Werke Verzeichnis:[5][6][7]

  1. BWV 924 – Prelude in C major (Klavierbüchlein No. 2: "Praeambulum")[8]
    BWV 924a – Prelude in C major (Klavierbüchlein No. 26: "Preludium ex c♮"; variant version of BWV 924 probably by W. F. Bach, BR‑WFB A 44)[9]
  2. BWV 925 – Prelude in D major (Klavierbüchlein No. 27: "Praeludium ex d♮"; possibly by W. F. Bach, BR‑WFB A 45)[10]
  3. BWV 926 – Prelude in D minor (Klavierbüchlein No. 4: "Praeludium")[11]
  4. BWV 927 – Prelude in F major (Klavierbüchlein No. 8: "Praeambulum")[12]
  5. BWV 928 – Prelude in F major (Klavierbüchlein No. 10: "Praeludium")[13]
  6. BWV 929 – Prelude in G minor (Klavierbüchlein No. 48e: Trio for a Minuet by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel)[14]
  7. BWV 930 – Prelude in G minor (Klavierbüchlein No. 9: "Praeambulum")[15]
  8. BWV 931 – Prelude in A minor (Klavierbüchlein No. 29: "Praeludium"; possibly by W. F. Bach, BR‑WFB A 47)[16]
  9. BWV 932 – Prelude in E minor (incomplete; Klavierbüchlein No. 28: "Praeludium ex e♭"; possibly by W. F. Bach, BR‑WFB A 46)[17]

Six Little Preludes (933–938)

An 18th-century set of short preludes by Johann Sebastian Bach:

  1. BWV 933 – Little Prelude in C major
  2. BWV 934 – Little Prelude in C minor
  3. BWV 935 – Little Prelude in D minor
  4. BWV 936 – Little Prelude in D major
  5. BWV 937 – Little Prelude in E major
  6. BWV 938 – Little Prelude in E minor

Five Little Preludes (939–943)

Five short preludes found in the manuscript P 804 (collection of Johann Peter Kellner):[18]

  1. BWV 939 – Prelude in C major[19]
  2. BWV 940 – Prelude in D minor[20]
  3. BWV 941 – Prelude in E minor[21]
  4. BWV 942 – Prelude in A minor[22]
  5. BWV 943 – Prelude in C major[23]

Fugues and fughettas (944–962)

Sonatas and sonata movements (963–970)

Italian Concerto, from Clavier-Übung II (971)

Keyboard arrangements of concerti by other composers (972–987)

Concerto in D major, BWV 972 – 2. Largo
Performed on a harpsichord by Gérard Janot

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Variations and miscellaneous pieces for keyboard (988–994)

Works for solo lute (BWV 995–1000)

Other keyboard and lute compositions

Works for solo lute (BWV 995–1000)

Canons (BWV 1072–1078)

Late contrapuntal works (BWV 1079–1080)

Spurious and doubtful works in Anna Magdalena's Notebooks (BWV Anh. 113–132)

Piano transcriptions


  1. Series V: Keyboard and Lute Works at the Bärenreiter website
  2. (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
  3. "Nekrolog" of Johann Sebastian Bach by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach and Johann Friedrich Agricola, in Mizler's Musikalische Bibliothek, Volume 4. Leipzig, 1754. pp. 163-165
  4. Bach Digital Work No. 1005 at
  5. BWV2a (1998) P. 391
  6. Alfred Dörffel, editor. BGA Vol. 451 (1897), pp. 213–231
  7. Wolfgang Plath, editor. New Bach Edition, Series V: Keyboard and Lute Works, Volume 5: Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann. Bärenreiter (1962, 21973, 31981).
  8. BDW 1098
  9. BDW 1099
  10. BDW 1100
  11. BDW 1101
  12. BDW 1102
  13. BDW 1103
  14. BDW 1104
  15. BDW 1105
  16. BDW 1106
  17. BDW 1107
  18. Ernst Naumann. "Vorwort" (Preface) in BGA Vol. 36 (1890), p. LX
  19. BDW 1114
  20. BDW 1115
  21. BDW 1116
  22. BDW 1117
  23. BDW 1118
  24. Fantasia and fugue, a BWV 944 at
  25. Talbot, Michael (2011). The Vivaldi Compendium. Boydell Press. p. 54. ISBN 9781843836704.
  26. 1 2 Ripin, Edwin M. & Wraight, Denzil. "Lute-harpsichord". In L. Root, Deane. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
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