BACH - STARR; Aria and Presto, for Baroque orchestra (an arrangement of the E minor Prelude from Book 1 of the WTC)

Johann Sebastian Bach
Year of composition
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
3 minutes
Classical music
Instrumental parts
Not available

Many of Bach's harpsichord works were conceived in terms of instruments other than the harpsichord. And some were conceived in orchestral terms, possibly on paper (as early sketches,) but more likely only in the composer's inner ear. The E minor Prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier is a case in point. It begins with an aria whose solo line perfectly matches the range of the oboe, and whose sostenuto character can only be expressed by a wind or stringed instrument, and not a harpsichord. At one point in the very slow aria that openins this prelude, one note in the melody is tied for more than two full bars. Just imagine a harpsichord sustaining that one note for five or six seconds!

In this transcription, I have scored this movement for a typical Baroque orchestra such as Bach used often in his cantatas (for example, Ich habe Genuch) consisting of solo oboe, strings and a harpsichord continuo.

You can hear a demo audio recording realized with digitial musical sounds by browsing on the webpage deevoted to this transcription on Here is the link to that webpage:

I hope viewers/listeners will express their opinions about Bach's Aria and Presto in E minor, and my orchestration of it – either in an online review or in an email to me (just click on EMAIL THE PUBLISHER.) I am always interested to read the comments of those who examine and listen to my compositions and orchestrations.

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