Prelude and Fugue, No. 17 in A-Flat Major

Prelude and Fugue, No. 17 in A-Flat Major

Prelude and Fugue, No. 17 in A-Flat Major

Johann Sebastian Bach

Till Fellner's masterclass

Produced by the Saline royale Academy English Music sheet annotated by  Till  Fellner  is available 1 h 5 min Piano

Till Fellner and Nao Sumimura address harmony, structure, and a variety of technical challenges.

Produced by the Saline royale Academy

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The masterclass

About this masterclass

Till Fellner works with student Nao Sumimura to bring out the style and details in Bach’s Prelude and Fugue No. 17. In the prelude, Fellner discusses which tempo is necessary to evoke the dancelike quality of the piece, and helps the student produce a lighter yet more resonant articulation in the eighth notes. He also illustrates how to connect the sequences and phrases together, so they make more musical sense. He also offers his advice on pedal use, dynamics, and overall phrasing. In the fugue, Fellner suggests creating a more cantabile musical line through legato connection and strategic use of the pedal. He points out the unique interval changes in this fugue and shows how to emphasize it. Fellner also helps the student always bring out the theme, even when it is an inner voice. 

What we learn in this masterclass

  1. Finding the right tempo and articulation to capture the dancing spirit. 

  2. Emphasizing the harmony and bass line in the prelude, and the theme in the fugue.

  3. Connecting sequences together musically.

  4. Producing a cantabile quality in the fugue. 

  5. Pacing, dynamic, and phrasing decisions that elevate the music.  

Prelude & Fugue, No. 17 in A-Flat Major by Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude and Fugue No. 17 in A-Flat Major is part of the first volume of Bach’s legendary The Well-Tempered Clavier. This collection of preludes and fugues for solo piano in every major and minor key was published in 1722 and is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece. Prelude and Fugue No. 17 begins in a lively, cheerful manner. The entire prelude is built upon the motif presented in the first measure, which cycles through a variety of keys. It is primarily in major keys, contributing to the sunny disposition of the piece. The fugue is more subdued in character, making more use of minor harmonies, though the subject is mainly derived from the tonic chord of A-flat. A fugue in four voices, it interestingly does not contain a counter-subject or use the common contrapuntal technique of stretto, setting it apart from many of the fugues Bach wrote. 

  • Date:17 April 2021
  • Producer: Produced by the Saline royale Academy
  • Duration:1 h 5 min
  • Spoken language:English

Sheet music

Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Till Fellner’s feedback and comments.

Sheet music prelude and fugue, no. 17 in a-flat major

Till Fellner

Till  Fellner

First prize in the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in Vevey, Switzerland in 1993.

Originally from Vienna, Austria, Till Fellner studied with Helene Sedo-Stadler before going on to study privately with Alfred Brendel, Meira Farkas, Oleg Maisenberg, and Claus-Christian Schuster. Till Fellner’s international career began in 1993, when he won first prize at the renowned Concours Clara Haskil Competition in Vevey, Switzerland. Since then, he has been regularly invited to play for prestigious orchestras, festivals and music centers of Europe, the United States, and Japan. He regularly collaborates with world-famous musicians, and has produced numerous recordings of the most important works in the piano repertoire. He has been teaching at the Zurich Hochschule der Künste since 2013.

As soloist, he performs with orchestras like Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and NHK Symphony Orchestra. Furthermore, Till Fellner has collaborated with Claudio Abbado, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph von Dohnányi, among many others. In the field of chamber music, Fellner regularly collaborates with British tenor Mark Padmore and with the Belcea Quartet.

Over the past few years, he has dedicated himself to two milestones of the piano repertoire: The Well-Tempered Clavier of Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as the 32 piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven. He performed the Beethoven cycle from 2008 to 2010 in New York, Washington, Tokyo, London, Paris, and Vienna. Moreover, Fellner has premiered works by Kit Armstrong, Harrison Birtwistle, Thomas Larcher, Alexander Stankovski, and Hans Zender. The ECM label, for whom Till Fellner is an exclusive recording artist, has released the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier and the Two & Three-Part Inventions of J. S. Bach, Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano, chamber music by Harrison Birtwistle. In 2016, Alpha Classics released the recording of the piano quintet by Johann Brahms with the Belcea Quartet. This recording received the “Diapason d’Or de l’Année”. Two years later, a CD entitled Till Fellner in Concert, a live recording featuring the works of Franz Liszt and Beethoven was publicly released.


Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in music history. His incredible creative power, technical mastery, and intellect have made a lasting impression not only on classical music but also on many different modern music genres we know today.

Born in 1685 in Eisenach, Germany, Bach was a member of a very well-known family of musicians. At 18-years-old, he began working in Arnstadt where he accompanied hymns at church. His professional career as a musician would follow in Weimar, where he resided from 1708 to 1717. Here, Bach would deepen his theoretical study of composition and write most of his organ works. Moreover, he composed preludes and fugues that would be part of his collection The Well-Tempered Clavier. After building a considerable reputation in Weimar, Bach moved to Köthen to take a new role as Chapel Master. Writing less religious songs and putting more of a focus on chamber music, his compositions from this time would bring Baroque instrumental music to its pinnacle.

From 1723 until his death in 1750, Bach worked in Leipzig. First, as Thomaskantor at the Thomasschule and later as a private tutor and director of the Collegium Musicum. During this time, Bach worked on creating a repertoire of cantatas for church and revised many of his previous compositions. From 1726 onward, his keyboard works were published. His death in 1750 came to mark the end of the Baroque period and the beginning of Classicism. For many years after his passing, Johann Sebastian Bach’s works were buried with him until they resurfaced many years later and celebrated for their musical ingenuity.

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