Bach, Johann Sebastian. (1685–1750)
Vingt-Quatre Préludes et Fugues [...] composés par Jean Sebastien Bach. 1re [2me] Suite.
A Zuric: Chez Jean Georges Naigueli. [1801; 1802].
Vingt-quatre Préludes et Fugues dans tous les tons et demi-tons du mode majeur et mineur, pour le Clavecin ou Piano-Forté, composés par Jean Sebastien Bach. 1re Suite, 109 pp.; 2me. Suite, 123 pp. Extremely scarce, complete first edition of both volumes of Johann Sebastian Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. In contemporary half vellum with gilt-stamped title vignette on spine and gilt-stamped ownership label (L. C.) mounted on the front cover. Panels covered with pink paper, on front cover faded. (1), (2) [blank], 2–109, (1); (1), (2) [blank], 2–123, (1) p. Covers slightly rubbed, bumped at corners. Small damage to the spine at the head and tail. Erroneous volume number on the title page of the second volume revised in pen by contemporary hand as in other known copies. Fingering numbers marked above notes on page 11 and 27 of volume one in pencil. Small tear to page 94, of volume one, presumably because of a removed wax stain, with no effect on the score. Small misprint on page 63 of the second volume. Overall in fine condition. BWV, p.655 ; RISM B 500 and BB 500 ; second volume absent from RISM ; Fuld, pp.117-118 ; see Hoboken 95 and 98 (same but with the title pages in German).
Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier BWV 846–869, 870–893, a collection of preludes and fugues for keyboard in all 24 major and minor keys, remains one of the most important works in the history of classical music and a seminal text for harpsichordists, organists and pianists. It surpassed "in logic, in format and in musical quality, all earlier endeavours of the same kind by other masters…[it] represents the culmination of a 20-year process of maturation and stands unparalleled in the history of music."–New Grove, Vol. 1, p. 813.
The two volumes of the collection were compiled by Bach in around 1722 and 1742. Although the work circulated widely in the 18th century in various manuscript copies and had already become a standard work, the first printed editions did not appear until the beginning of the 19th century. Three editions came out simultaneously in 1801–1802, published by Naigueli in Zurich, Hoffmeister & Compo in Leipzig, and N. Simrock in Bonn.