Bach is one of the most revered classical composers of all time. His music has been enjoyed by audiences for centuries, and his piano pieces are some of the most beloved classical works ever written.
So, If you are looking for an introduction to the great composer, in this blog post, we’ll take a look at 12 of the greatest Bach piano pieces of all time. So sit back and enjoy some amazing Bach music!
Related: Check out our post on other great German composers here.
1. Minuet In G Major
First, we have Bach’s Minuet in G major. This is one of the most recognizable pieces in all of classical piano, and even if you aren’t sure exactly what this piece sounds like, there’s a good chance you have heard it before.
The piece is known for its elegant melodies and simple harmonies and many beginner piano students will learn this piece because it is relatively easy to play. However, even experienced pianists enjoy playing Minuet in G Major because of its beauty and charm.
After learning the basics of reading your notes, counting the beats, and how to read the key, you should give this piece a try. It is not that challenging, but it will test the basics of fingering, phrasing, and counting.
Related: Our list of interesting facts about Bach.
2. Toccata And Fugue In D Minor
Okay, so Bach’s Toccata And Fugue In D Minor is actually a piece for the organ, but it is arguably his most recognizable composition.
Just about everyone has heard this piece, and you have probably heard it in the background of a wide variety of horror movies. If you go out at all on Halloween, there is a good chance that you will hear this piece somewhere.
Even though it doesn’t sound like the happiest piece in the world, it is still absolutely beautiful. While you will not be able to mimic the sound of the organ on the piano, there are still plenty of transcriptions available.
3. The Goldberg Variations: BMV 998
In general, as you move forward in music history, the pieces get more challenging; however, there are plenty of pieces that Bach wrote that are plenty challenging enough! Bach’s Goldberg Variations is a perfect example of this.
The Goldberg Variations are among the most challenging pieces in all of classical piano. Even though there are some variations that are relatively straightforward, it truly takes a master of the piano to play all of the Goldberg Variations exactly as they were intended.
If you feel like you have the skills necessary to tackle them, consider giving them a try! Keep in mind that you do not need to learn all of them at the same time. Pick your favorites and learn those.
4. The Italian Concerto In F
Bach wrote plenty of beautiful concertos during his time, and one of the most popular is the Italian Concerto. It has been featured on TV shows and movies before, so don’t be surprised if you have heard it before.
There are several movements, but the third movement is the most recognizable. It is also the most challenging. It is a movement of perpetual motion, and it does not stop for anything!
It takes a lot of practice to learn how to play this piece well, but it is definitely worth it.
5. French Suite No.2 In C Minor
If you are looking for an intermediate piece you might be able to play, consider tackling The French Suite No. 2 in C minor. Arguably one of Bach’s best and most popular keyboard works, it’s a perfect example of the composer’s mastery of the genre.
It is not a piece that will push you to your limits, but it is a great way for you to test some of the basic skills regarding the piano. You will be asked to handle basic changes in expression and phrasing, and you will have to work hard to adequately convey the emotions of a piece.
The suite is divided into seven movements, each of which features a different dance style. Throughout the work, Bach demonstrates his remarkable ability to evoke different moods and emotions through his music.
The French Suite No. 2 is a timeless masterpiece that remains as fresh and relevant today as it was when it was first composed over 250 years ago.
6. Prelude And Fugue No. 2
If you want to push your skills just a bit more, you may want to take a closer look at some of the preludes and fugues in the Well-Tempered Clavier. It is one of the most recognizable collections of sheet music for the piano!
If you start at the front and work your way forward, you will be exposed to a wide variety of beautiful pieces. This includes the second Prelude and Fugue, which is very recognizable and one of Bach’s most famous piano works. It’s often used as an audition piece for conservatories and music schools.
The Prelude is meant to be played up-tempo and is a beautiful, lyrical piece that showcases the pianist’s range and facility.
The Fugue is a complex and challenging work that requires the pianist to have a strong command of counterpoint.
Both the Prelude and the Fugue are essential works in the Bach canon, and they are sure to challenge and delight any pianist who takes on the challenge.
7. Air On The G String
Of all of Bach’s piano pieces, “Air on the G String” is perhaps the best known. Written as part of his Orchestral Suite No. 3, the piece was originally intended for string orchestra but you can certainly learn the piano arrangement on your own.
While it’s a relatively simple and straightforward piece, pne of the things that makes “Air on the G String” so special is its melody. The soaring theme is both beautiful and timeless.
As you would expect, it has been used in countless movies, commercials, and TV shows over the years as well as at weddings. It’s no wonder that this piece continues to be one of Bach’s most popular works.
8. Concerto In D Minor – Adagio
Bach is far from the only well-known composer of the Baroque era. He kept in touch with a wide variety of Italian and French composers, and he often tried to mimic them with his compositions.
That is exactly what he does with his Concerto In D Minor. It is a slight modification in style when compared to other composers of his era, including Lully, Couperin, and Corelli, but it is still a beautiful piece.
One of Bach’s most popular piano pieces, it is well known for its beautiful and moving Adagio, the second of three movements in the concerto.
The Adagio begins with a simple, yet elegant melody in the right hand, which is then supported by the left hand providing the harmony. The Adagio builds to a powerful climax, before calming back down.
The Concerto in D minor is a fantastic work, and the Adagio is one of Bach’s finest moments.
9. Concerto No. 1 In D Minor
Bach’s Concerto No. 1 In D Minor is another beautiful concerto that you may want to try. At the time he was writing this piece, he was the concert director for the Collegium Musicum, and he was asked to continually produce new pieces.
While it’s not one for the beginner pianist, there are plenty of arrangements available, so try to find one for the solo piano. Then, test yourself by trying to bring out the various melodies as Bach intended.
10. Invention No. 1 In C Major
Another type of composition worth mentioning when considering Bach’s best piano works are his two-part inventions. These are pieces that have two separate melodies that work together to bring a unique sound to the forefront.
His invention No. 1 is one of the most popular which is likely because it is relatively easy to play and sounds great when performed well.
A great example of Bach’s use of counterpoint and his mastery of the keyboard. It is no wonder that this piece has remained popular for centuries.
11. Concerto No. 7 In G Minor
Bach’s Concerto No. 7 In G Minor is another beautiful composition for piano worth mentioning. It is a bit more challenging than some of the other pieces, but it was intended for the harpsichord with string orchestra. That being said, you can play it as a solo pianist and test your skills.
This concerto also served as an inspiration to a lot of composers who would come after him, including Haydn and Mozart.
12. Sinfonia No. 1 In C Major
And finally, after you finish the two-part inventions, you may want to consider giving a three-part invention to try, such as Bach’s Sinfonia No. 1 In C Major.
Composed in 1723, it’s a short but fast pace piece that will test your counterpoint skills. That’s because instead of two melodies working together, you will have to deal with three. Clearly, this will be a bit more of a challenge, but it is a beautiful way for you to work on your rhythm, fingering, and phrasing.
Summing Up Bach’s Best Piano Works
That wraps up our article on Bach’s best piano pieces. We hope you enjoyed learning about them.
But, as you can imagine from such a prolific composer as Bach, this list is just a few of the many beautiful pieces that he wrote.
Still, if you’re studying the piano, or just learning more about classical music, Bach wrote some of the most beautiful and timeless pieces ever written and should be considered essential listening.
Let us know which pieces you think we should have included!