Prelude & Fugue No.9

Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude & Fugue No.9 in E major

BWV878 • “The Well-tempered Clavier Book 2: Prelude & Fugue No. 9”

About this work

Bach makes the key of E major perfectly clear through the sustained notes that announce the prelude's beginning. This is one of the longer preludes in the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, a rolling allemande with irregular melodic phrases that flow one into the next. The allemande was a stylized dance that was all the rage in Bach's time, but for the E major fugue the composer looks back to earlier forms. It's more of a ricercar, a sort of proto-fugue that arose in the Renaissance. Here, the very grave piece finds its four voices entering in ascending order. Although the tempo is slow and the subject features long-held notes, Bach often thickens the musical texture through liberal use of stretto, just as the old ricercar composers would have done.