15 inventions

15 inventions

BWV 772-786 performed by Johannes Asfaw, Kanji Daito, Evander Eijsink, Domonkos Hegyi, Anna Kuvshinov, Frank Monster, Peiting Xue and David Zielman
Ottone, Utrecht

  • Menu
  • 1. BWV 772 in C major (Anna Kuvshinov)
  • 2. BWV 773 in C minor (Kanji Daito)
  • 3. BWV 774 in D major (David Zielman)
  • 4. BWV 775 in D minor (Kanji Daito)
  • 5. BWV 776 in E flat major (Evander Eijsink)
  • 6. BWV 777 in E major (Johannes Asfaw)
  • 7. BWV 778 in E minor (Peiting Xue)
  • 8. BWV 779 in F major (Frank Monster)
  • 9. BWV 780 in F minor (Anna Kuvshinov)
  • 10. BWV 781 in G major (Peiting Xue)
  • 11. BWV 782 in G minor (Johannes Asfaw)
  • 12. BWV 783 in A major (Peiting Xue)
  • 13. BWV 784 in A minor (Anna Kuvshinov)
  • 14. BWV 785 in B flat major (Frank Monster)
  • 15. BWV 786 in B minor (Domonkos Hegyi)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Teaching them young

Bach did not make things easy for his pupils in their first lessons

No piece of music can do without ingenious ideas or inventions. But the name invention is also used for a very special genre with a colourful history, to which Bach’s 15 short keyboard pieces also belong.
Like the ricercares of the Renaissance and early Baroque, Bach’s 15 inventions are experiments (here very concise ones) on a musical idea, a theme and a new way of combining lines. In tiny doses, the player can thus familiarise himself with the effect of music and with Bach’s genius.

Bach’s 15 inventions are in the Klavierbüchlein, the exercise book that Bach compiled around 1720 for his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. Three years later, he further underlined his didactic aim: the pupil was to practice two-part playing, learn how to deal with musical ideas and get a taste of composition. The 15 inventions were therefore the first step in Bach’s teaching method for keyboard. The 15 inventions are followed in the Klavierbüchlein by the French and English Suites, and the collection concludes with Das Wohltemperirte Clavier.

The 15 inventions are dominated by imitation, as is to be expected in two-part Baroque music. After all, two-part texture is the simplest form of counterpoint. Bach went on to structure his method with care. In the exercise book for Wilhelm Friedemann, he organised the inventions by theme: the first three (numbers 1, 4 and 7) are based on scales, and the next three (numbers 8, 10 and 11) on broken chords, followed by a combination of both in Invention no. 14, which is almost a fugue in form.

The order in Bach’s later, definitive manuscript from 1723, however, corresponds to the system of the keyboard. Just as later on, in Das Wohltemperirte Clavier, the order is chromatic, alternating between major and minor. Bach did, however, leave out the most difficult keys with lots of sharps or flats. Beginners on the keyboard only got those keys dished up later on.

15 inventions
harpsichord works
Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Special notes
The earliest source for the Inventions, the Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, only became available to the public in 1932. All the editions up to then had been based on the autograph from 1723.

Extra videos

Behind the scenes

“Harpsichordists Siebe Henstra, Menno van Delft, Pieter-Jan Belder en Tineke Steenbrink taught eight talented children to play the harpsichord in only three months.”

Harpsichordist Siebe Henstra

“One of the four harpsichord masters, Siebe Henstra, on the 15 inventions.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    22 April 2016
  • Recording date
    16 April 2016
  • Location
    Ottone, Utrecht
  • Harpsichordists
    Johannes Asfaw, Kanji Daito, Evander Eijsink, Domonkos Hegyi, Anna Kuvshinov, Frank Monster, Peiting Xue en David Zielman
  • Masters
    Pieter-Jan Belder, Menno van Delft, Siebe Henstra, Tineke Steenbrink
  • Harpsichord
    Bruce Kennedy, 1989 naar Michael Mietke
  • Film director and editor
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Camera
    Maarten van Rossem, Robert Berger, Richard Spierings
  • Camera assistants
    Luuk Walschout
  • Music recording producers
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot
  • Interview
    Gijs Besseling, Noah Pepper
  • Project manager
    Hanna Schreuders
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With financial support from

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