Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in F Major, BWV 880: A Study in Contrast

The Prelude and Fugue No. 11 in F Major, BWV 880 comes from the second book of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. These sublime etudes traverse all twenty four major and minor keys, and in Bach’s words, were conceived “for the use and profit of musical youth desirous of learning, as well as for the pastime of those already skilled in this study.” They are pieces characterized by a divine sense of order.

The majestic Prelude unfolds with a continues stream of flowing eighth notes. A generous back and forth dialogue between voices, it resembles the improvisatory French prélude non mesuré (“unmeasured prelude”) which originated in lute music. While these scores were written commonly in an enigmatic graphic form, Bach provides all of the notes. The brief, dancelike Fugue provides an unexpected contrast. Its subject mirrors the rising and falling motif of the Prelude. The previous dignified chorale is swept away by a jubilant, leaping gigue.

The German harpsichordist and pianist, Christine Schornsheim, recorded this performance on February 13, 2022 for the Netherlands Bach Society:

Featured Image: New York’s structurally expressive Hearst Tower rises on top of an existing Art Deco base. 

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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