The Bach Prelude in C Major from Book One of the Well Tempered Clavier
J.S. Bach’s famous Prelude in C is another great choice for use in a Wedding from the Baroque Era.
Here Bach’s Prelude in C played on a harpsichord which is likely the instrument for which Bach intended it:
J.S. Bach and His Prelude in C
Johann Sebastien Bach (1685-1750) is very likely the greatest composer to ever have lived. He wrote the Prelude in C as the opening piece of his monumental work: The Well-Tempered Clavier (or Das Wohltemperierte Klavier). There are two volumes of the The Well-Tempered Clavier. The Prelude in C is from the first volume which was published in 1722. The second volume appeared in 1742.
As an indication of their importance in the history of music, the 48 Preludes and Fugues that make up the two volumes of the Well-Tempered Clavier are often referred to by musicians as our musical “Old Testament”. Caring this analogy a little further, Ludwig van Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas, published nearly a century later between 1795 and 1822, are consider to be our musical “New Testament.”
In the nearly four centuries since Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier was written countless piano players have at the same time enjoyed and struggled to master these difficult keyboard pieces.
Since the piano was not invented until near the end of his life, the Clavier that Bach had in mind was either the harpsichord or a clavichord (a smaller, private version of the harpsichord).
“Modern” Interpretations of the the Bach Prelude in C
With the development of the piano after Bach’s death during the second half of the 18th Century, the harpsichord quickly came to be considered “old fashioned.” With the piano becoming the primary keyboard instrument, Bach’s music was naturally adapted for it.
Here is a performance of the Bach Prelude in C played on a modern piano:
The Bach-Gounod Ave Maria
In 1853 the French operatic composer Charles Gounod (1818-1893) created a vocal adaptation of the Bach Prelude in C. For over a century the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria” was very popular and was used for many Weddings:
The Bach Prelude in C and Your Wedding
The Bach Prelude in C is an excellent choice when you are looking for a quiet, meditative piece. It works well as part of the Prelude selections played before your Wedding Ceremony or to accompany a unity ceremony during the Wedding Ceremony.
Patrick Byrne, Piano
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