The Well-Tempered Clavier I No. 14 in F-sharp minor

The Well-Tempered Clavier I No. 14 in F-sharp minor

BWV 859 performed by Jacques Ogg
at home in Bunde, The Netherlands

  • Menu
  • 1. Prelude
  • 2. Fugue

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Filled with melancholy

You just have to play it

For this recording, we visited harpsichordist Jacques Ogg in Bunde, Limburg. Jacques Ogg is a big fan of F-sharp minor, the key of Prelude and fugue no. 14 from the Wohltemperirte Clavier: “It’s a strange key”, he says, “filled with melancholy”. And in this Prelude and fugue the ingenious Bach demonstrates the different ways he can represent that wonderful, sombre character. In the Prelude, he chooses to use the minimum of means. The theme is based on just four notes and the piece is almost completely constructed as a two-part invention. And it is precisely in this simplicity that the master reveals himself. In the four-part Fugue, we hear the melancholy in the yearning counter theme, for instance. “It’s all so subtly constructed, you just have to play it”, says harpsichordist Jacques Ogg.

Das Wohltemperirte Clavier, BWV 846-893
Composing 48 keyboard pieces in all 24 keys was the sort of challenge Bach enjoyed. In each of the two parts of the Wohltemperirte Clavier, he brought together the musical couple prelude and fugue 24 times; twelve in minor keys and twelve in major. In the preludes, he gave free rein to his imagination, and demonstrated mathematical tours de force in the fugues. In contrast to the iron discipline Bach had to apply to his church compositions, here he could abandon himself to intellectual Spielerei without worrying about deadlines.

The first part of the Wohltemperirte Clavier dates from 1722, although it contains some music that was written in the preceding five years. There is less clarity about the history of part two. Bach compiled this second manuscript only around 1740, although once again some of the preludes and fugues it contains date from a much earlier period. Bach described the target group for this collection of pieces as follows: ‘Zum Nutzen und Gebrauch der Lehr-begierigen Musicalischen Jugend, als auch dere in diesem studio schon habil seyenden besonderem ZeitVertreib’ (For both the education of the industrious musical youngster and the enjoyment of those well-versed in this material’).

Prelude and fugue in F-sharp minor
no. 14 from The Well-Tempered Clavier I
harpsichord works
Das Wohltemperirte Clavier I
1722 or earlier
Cöthen (or Weimar?)

With support from

Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds

Extra videos

Harpsichordist Jacques Ogg

“F-sharp minor is a wonderful key. Full of melancholy.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    5 October 2018
  • Recording date
    10 March 2018
  • Location
    Bunde, The Netherlands
  • Harpsichordist
    Jacques Ogg
  • Harpsichord
    Cristofori, approx. 1710
  • Director
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Music recording, edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera and interview
    Gijs Besseling
  • Producer
    Marco Meijdam
  • With support from
    Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds

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