Sunday, July 25, 2021
It's not possible to celebrate Beethoven without doing reverence to the towering figure of Johann Sebastian Bach. Under his first teacher, Gottlob Neefe, Beethoven learned both playing and composition from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, which Beethoven had mastered by the age of twelve.
Soon after moving to Vienna in 1792, Beethoven joined the musical circle around Baron Gottfried van Swieten which gathered every Sunday to study music by Bach and Handel. Before writing his Missa Solemnis he combed the library of Archduke Rudolph for music by Renaissance and Baroque composers, “among whom only Bach and Handel had real genius.” He once called Bach “the immortal god of harmony,” and in a diary entry written as his hearing continued its decline, reflected on the “portraits of Handel, Bach, Gluck, Mozart, and Haydn in my room — they can promote my capacity for endurance.”
Here is the Prelude and Fugue in C Major from Book II of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C (WTK, Book II, No.1) , BWV 870
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