Prelude No.5

Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude No.5 in C major


About this work

This Prelude can be identified as a component of two different sets: the Little Preludes (12) and the Little Preludes (5). Bach himself did not place the work in any collection, but musicologists have conveniently assembled a group of 18 of his "pedagogical" preludes into two sets. The larger of them, the Little Preludes (12), consists of the works from BWV 924-30, 939-43, and 999. Some musicologists break these Preludes down further, grouping the ones from BWV 939-43 as a separate set of five. In any event, this C major effort is a fairly easy work meant for keyboard students, but still compelling on purely musical grounds. The work opens with a single, mostly descending line that resembles a mere practice scale. But from this modest beginning, Bach, without adding significant complications, fashions a minor gem. When harmonies are added -- which themselves reveal subtle contrapuntal aspects -- the notes from the opening take shape, forming an attractive, lively melody. A variant soon appears, quite graceful and charming in its mostly ascending trajectory and equally simple manner. The theme goes through many transformations and never reappears in its original guise. This charming piece typically has a duration of two minutes.