Inventions and Sinfonias (Bach)

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Bach in 1715

The Inventions and Sinfonias (1720; revised 1723) are 30 pieces of keyboard music (15 each in sinfonia and invention) composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. They are sometimes known as the Two and Three Part Inventions. Bach arranged the two groups of pieces in order of ascending key. Each group covers the eight major and seven minor keys. Bach wrote them as exercises and study pieces for his 12 year old son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. The 1720 versions are found in the boy's Little Keyboard Book of 1722. The invention and sinfonias are often used as preparation for two volumes of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier.[1]

Bach wrote in the preface to the printed edition of the Inventions and Sinfonias: "Honest method, by which the amateurs of the keyboard – especially, however, those desirous of learning – are shown a clear way not only (1) to learn to play cleanly in two parts, but also, after further progress, (2) to handle three obligate parts correctly and well; and along with this not only to obtain good inventions (ideas) but to develop the same well; above all, however, to achieve a cantabile style in playing and at the same time acquire a strong foretaste of composition."

(In that year, there wasn’t piano. So, J.S.Bach used harpsichord as a keyboard instrument.)

Media[change | change source]

All of these sinfonias are played by Randolph Hokanson.

Key Invention Sinfonia
C major BWV 772 preview.png About this soundNo. 1, BWV 772 BWV 787 Incipit.png No. 1, BWV 787
C minor BWV 773 preview.png About this soundNo. 2, BWV 773 BWV 788 Incipit.png No. 2, BWV 788
D major BWV 774 preview.png About this soundNo. 3, BWV 774 BWV 789 Incipit.png No. 3, BWV 789
D minor BWV 775 preview.png About this soundNo. 4, BWV 775 BWV 790 Incipit.png No. 4, BWV 790
E-flat major BWV 776 preview.png About this soundNo. 5, BWV 776 BWV 791 Incipit.png No. 5, BWV 791
E major BWV 777 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 6, BWV 777 BWV 792 Incipit.png No. 6, BWV 792
E minor BWV 778 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 7, BWV 778 BWV 793 Incipit.png No. 7, BWV 793
F major BWV 779 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 8, BWV 779 BWV 794 Incipit.png No. 8, BWV 794
F minor BWV 780 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 9, BWV 780 BWV 795 Incipit.png No. 9, BWV 795
G major BWV 781 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 10, BWV 781 BWV 796 Incipit.png No. 10, BWV 796
G minor BWV 782 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 11, BWV 782 BWV 797 Incipit.png No. 11, BWV 797
A major BWV 783 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 12, BWV 783 BWV 798 Incipit.png No. 12, BWV 798
A minor BWV 784 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 13, BWV 784 BWV 799 Incipit.png No. 13, BWV 799
B-flat major BWV 785 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 14, BWV 785 BWV 800 Incipit.png No. 14, BWV 800
B minor BWV 786 Incipit.png About this soundNo. 15, BWV 786 BWV 801 Incipit.png No. 15, BWV 801
  To play the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) files (Inventions), click their titles.
For information on the MIDI files, click the speaker icon.Loudspeaker.svg
These are computer-generated representations of Bach's music, and do not convey how a human pianist would perform them.
All Sinfonias played by Randolph Hokanson

References[change | change source]

  1. Woodstra p. 51
  • Woodstra, Chris (Ed.) and others. 2005. Blair Johnston in All music guide to classical music. All Media Guide. ISBN 0-87930-865-6.

Other websites[change | change source]