Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Johann Sebastian Bach, the German organist and composer of the Baroque era, was one of the greatest and most productive geniuses in the history of Western music.
The significance of Bach's music is due in large part to the scope of his intellect. He is perhaps best known as a supreme master of counterpoint. Counterpoint is the simultaneous combination of two or more melodies. The word counterpoint is derived from the Latin punctus contra punctum-literally, "point against point", or note against note, meaning in effect melody against melody.
Bach was able to understand and use every resource of musical language that was available in the Baroque era. Thus, if he chose, he could combine the rhythmic patterns of French dances, the gracefulness of Italian melody, and the intricacy of German counterpoint all in one composition.

Prelude and Fugue in E flat minor Prelude and Fugue in E flat minor (MPEG3, 16 kbps) Prelude and Fugue in E flat minor (RealAudio 3.0, 16 kbps) Prelude and Fugue in E flat minor (Netshow 2.0, 21 kbps)

This is one of the pieces from Das Wohltemperierte Klavier (The well-tempered piano). This refers to a system of tuning advocated by Bach, which was to establish itself during the 19th century. In equal temperament the octave is divided into twelve precisely equidistant intervals.
This piece is one of 48 which illustrate and exploit the new method. Technically this is a difficult work because although it resembles a tune of the romantic period, it has to be played within the constraints of baroque music.

Acknowledgments: Microsoft® Encarta® 96 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. Picture from The Great Composers.

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