A bar-by-bar interpretation of Bach’s A Minor Prelude and Fugue trans. by Liszt for Piano. BWV 543

Edition: Edition Peeters Nr. 3602b ‘Liszt Klavierwerke X: Miscellaneous Transcriptions’.

N.B There are no bar numbers in this entire edition, but conscientious counting of the bars for the Prelude and Fugue will make the references below clear. What follows is my own interpretation of this piece, for those who find it helpful – please don’t neglect your own artistic ideals. You will tell that I am far from a purist when it comes to the playing of Bach. My feeling is, a pianist with no organ-training will need to be sensitive to the original purpose of this composition, and give due thought and consideration to the acoustic in any performance. Pedal will certainly be necessary, particularly in areas where the sustained pedal notes are essential to the harmonic shape of the piece.


Bar Numbers:


1- 8. ‘Désolation Totale’. A Fox, in an open field – totally humanless in the presence of a single street light.

9. ‘Poursuite de la paix’.

13. Crescendo from the bass.

15. Crescendo from the bass.

17. Crescendo from the bass.

18. ff.

19. Crescendo from the bass.

25. No pedal for declining octaves in both hands.

29. Mini rit.

36. p in LH.

38 pp with crescendo into 39.

45. rit towards end of bar.

47. ff to pp for 48.

53. repeated octave A in bass (not written, but essential.).




1-5. fugue subject: ppp ‘Début d’une vie pure et parfaite’. Every new introduction of the subject/should paint a new colour.

6. theme in LH, tonal answer in bar 8.

15-25. ‘commence à pousser un peu’.

26. ‘sortir de la maison dans le monde’.


35 -50. ‘les années passent’.

51 – 86. ‘contempler l’avenir’. 53 -55 Keep the Sop. Voice singing!.

71 – 87 pp.


87 – 95. ‘Prévision d’un moment plein de douleur’. ppp. dramatically slow crescendo, and rit-accel leading cleanly to the climax. (This should be the felt as the climax of both the prelude and the fugue, particularly when played together!)

95 – 108. ‘agonie, les cris de l’aide’. Only heard if Sop voices are held, and well articulated…Mi – Re – Do – Si….essential. Played legato.

108 -118. ‘incapable d’expliquer la douleur’.

119 – 123. ‘une descente dans une folie momentanée’. If technique allows, a crescendo is affective here.

132 -149. ‘crie à Dieu une réponse’. I take the octaves 139 -145 solely with the Left Hand, although Liszt writes suggesting a split.

150. ‘Dieu répond à la douleur’.

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