12 of Bach's Best Piano Pieces: Best Piano Works (2023)

Bach is one of the most revered classical composers of all time. His music has been enjoyed by the public for centuries, and his piano pieces are among the most popular classical works ever written.

So if you're looking for an introduction to the great composer, in this blog post we look at 12 of Bach's greatest piano pieces of all time. So sit back and enjoy the fantastic music of Bach!

Related: Check out our post about othergreat german composersHere.


1. Minuet in G major

First, we have Bach's Minuet in G major. This is one of the most well-known pieces on classical piano, and even if you don't know exactly what this piece sounds like, there's a good chance you've heard it before.

The piece is known for its graceful melodies and simple harmonies, and many beginning pianists will learn this piece because it is relatively easy to play. But even experienced pianists like to play the Minuet in G major because of its beauty and charm.

Now that you've learned the basics of how to read your music, count beats, and read pitch, give this piece a try. It's not as challenging, but it will test the fundamentals of fingering, phrasing and counting.

Related: Our list ofBach is worth knowing.

(Video) 13 Bach Pieces You've Heard and Don't Know the Name

2. Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Okay, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is actually an organ piece, but it's arguably his best-known composition.

Almost everyone has heard this track, and you've probably heard it in the background of countless horror movies. If you're going out on Halloween, chances are you'll hear this piece somewhere.

While it doesn't look like the happiest piece in the world, it's still absolutely beautiful. Although you cannot imitate the sound of the organ on the piano, there are still many transcriptions.

3. The Goldberg Variations: BMV 998

In general, the pieces become more challenging as the song progresses; However, there are many pieces that Bach wrote that are quite challenging! Bach's Goldberg Variations are a perfect example of this.

The Goldberg Variations are among the most challenging classical piano pieces of all time. While there are some variations that are relatively straightforward, it really does take a master pianist to play all the Goldberg Variations exactly as designed.

If you think you have the skills to tackle them, give them a try! Remember, you don't have to learn them all at once. Choose your favorites and learn them.

4. The Italian Concerto in F

Bach wrote many beautiful concertos during his time, and one of the most popular is the Concerto Italiano. It's appeared in TV shows and movies before, so don't be surprised if you've heard it before.

There are several sets, but the third set is the most famous. It is also the most demanding. It's a perpetual motion machine and it stops at nothing!

It takes a lot of practice to learn to play this piece well, but it's definitely worth it.

5. French Suite No. 2 in E minor

If you're looking for a centerpiece to play, tackle French Suite #2 in C Minor. Possibly one of Bach's best and most popular piano works, it is a perfect example of the composer's mastery of the genre.

(Video) The Best of Piano: The most beautiful classical piano pieces for relax & study

It's not a piece that will push you to the limit, but it's a great way to test out some basic piano-related skills. You have to deal with fundamental changes in expression and phrasing, and you have to work hard to properly convey the emotion of a piece.

The suite is divided into seven movements, each featuring a different dance style. Throughout the work, Bach demonstrates his remarkable ability to evoke different moods and emotions through his music.

French Suite No. 2 is a timeless masterpiece, as current and relevant today as when it was first composed over 250 years ago.

6. Prelude and Fugue No. 2

If you want to brush up on your skills a bit more, you might want to take a closer look at some of the preludes and fugues in thewell seasoned cloves. It is one of the most famous collections of sheet music for piano!

As you start at the front and work your way up, you'll be exposed to a variety of beautiful pieces. These include the second prelude and fugue, which is highly recognizable and one of Bach's most famous piano works. It is often used as a prelude piece for conservatories and music schools.

Intended to be played at a fast tempo, the Prelude is a beautiful lyrical piece, showcasing the pianist's range and ease.

The Fugue is a complex and challenging work that requires a strong mastery of counterpoint from the pianist.

Both the Prelude and the Fugue are essential works in the Bach canon and are sure to challenge and delight any pianist who is up to the challenge.

7. Ar na tanga

Of all Bach's piano pieces, the G string aria is perhaps the best known. Written as part of his Orchestral Suite #3, the piece was originally intended for string orchestra, but you can certainly learn the piano arrangement yourself.

Despite being a relatively simple and straightforward piece, one of the things that makes "Air on the G String" so special is its melody. The rising theme is beautiful and timeless.

(Video) Bach - Piano Collection

Not surprisingly, it has been used in countless movies, commercials and TV shows, as well as at weddings, over the years. No wonder this piece remains one of Bach's most popular works.

8. Concerto in D minor – Adagio

Bach is by no means the only known Baroque composer. He kept in touch with a large number of Italian and French composers and often tried to imitate them in his compositions.

That's exactly what he does with his Concerto in D minor. It's a slight stylistic shift compared to other composers of his day, including Lully, Couperin and Corelli, but it's still a beautiful piece.

One of Bach's most popular piano pieces, it is known for its beautiful and moving Adagio, the second of the concerto's three movements.

The Adagio begins with a simple but elegant melody in the right hand, which is then supported by the left hand, which provides harmony. The Adagio builds to a powerful climax before calming down again.

The Concerto in D minor is a fantastic work and the Adagio is one of Bach's greatest moments.

9. Concerto No. 1 in D minor

Bach's Concerto No. 1 in D minor is another beautiful concerto that you might want to experience. At the time he wrote this piece, he was concert director at the Collegium Musicum and was constantly asked to produce new pieces.

While not for beginners, there are many arrangements available, so try to find one for solo piano. Then challenge yourself by trying to bring the different melodies the way Bach intended.

10. Invention No. 1 in C-Dur

Another style of composition worth noting when considering Bach's best piano works are his two-part inventions. They are pieces with two separate melodies working together to bring out a single sound.

Their #1 Invention is one of their most popular, probably because it's relatively easy to play and sounds good when played well.

(Video) The Best of Piano - 50 Greatest Pieces: Chopin, Debussy, Beethoven, Mozart...

A great example of Bach's use of counterpoint and mastery of the keyboard. No wonder this piece has been popular for centuries.

11. Concerto No. 7 in G Minor

Bach's Concerto No. 7 in G Minor is another fine piano composition worth mentioning. It's a little more demanding than some of the other pieces, but it's designed for harpsichord with string orchestra. With it, you can play it like a solo pianist and test your skills.

This concert also served as an inspiration for many composers who came after it, including Haydn and Mozart.

12. Symphony No. 1 in C Major

And finally, after finishing the two-part inventions, you might want to consider giving a three-part invention a try, like Bach's Symphony No. 1 in C Major.

Composed in 1723, it is a short but fast-paced piece that will test your contrapuntal skills. That's because you don't have to work with two songs, but with three. This gets a little more challenging, of course, but it's a good way to work on your rhythm, strumming, and phrasing.

Summary of the best piano works by Bach

That concludes our article on the best Bach piano pieces. We hope you had fun getting to know them.

But as you might imagine from a composer as prolific as Bach, this list is just a few of the many beautiful pieces he wrote.

Whether you're studying piano or just learning more about classical music, Bach has written some of the most beautiful and timeless pieces ever written and should be considered essential listening.

Please let us know which parts you think we should have included!


What is Bach's most famous piano piece? ›

Of all of Bach's piano pieces, “Air on the G String” is perhaps the best known.

What is Bach's hardest piano piece? ›

There are two works of Bach's that are among the most difficult piano pieces ever. Those works are: The Goldberg Variations. The Art of Fugue.

What did Bach say about the piano? ›

Sebastian Bach. He praised, indeed, admired, its tone; but he complained that it was too weak in the high register and too hard to play.

What is Bach's most famous piece? ›

Bach's Concerto for Two Violins is one of his most famous works.

What is the best piano piece of all time? ›

The 16 best pieces EVER written for piano
  • J.S. Bach – Goldberg Variations.
  • Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue.
  • Liszt – Piano Sonata in B minor.
  • Mozart – Piano Concerto No. ...
  • Beethoven – Sonata Pathétique.
  • Liszt – La Campanella.
  • Mozart – Piano Sonata No. 11 (including 'Rondo alla Turca')
  • Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor.
Jan 27, 2023

What is the most beautiful Bach piece? ›

10 of Bach's all-time best pieces of music
  • The Brandenburg Concertos. ...
  • The Goldberg Variations. ...
  • Concerto for Two Violins in D minor. ...
  • The Well-Tempered Clavier. ...
  • St Matthew Passion. ...
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor. ...
  • Six Suites for Solo Cello. ...
  • B Minor Mass.
Mar 5, 2021

What is the number 1 hardest piano song? ›

These are the hardest pieces ever written for the piano
  • Liszt – La Campanella. ...
  • Ravel – Gaspard de la Nuit. ...
  • Conlon Nancarrow – Studies for Player Piano. ...
  • Sorabji – Opus clavicembalisticum. ...
  • Charles Valentin Alkan – Concerto for Solo Piano. ...
  • Chopin – Étude Op. ...
  • Scriabin – Sonata No. ...
  • Stravinsky – Trois mouvements de Petrouchka.
Jul 1, 2022

What is the most terrifying piano piece? ›

The 20 scariest pieces of classical music for Halloween
  • Grieg – In the Hall of the Mountain King. ...
  • Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre. ...
  • John Williams – Jaws. ...
  • Mussorgsky – A Night on the Bare Mountain. ...
  • Maurice Jarre – Ghost. ...
  • Berlioz – Dream of a Witches' Sabbath from Symphonie Fantastique. ...
  • Bernard Herrmann – Psycho. ...
  • J.S.
Oct 31, 2022

What is Bach's most terrifying piece? ›

Many folks would call Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor the ultimate piece of scary music, thanks to any number of horror movies and pop culture moments that have used its thundering organ sounds as a kind of ghoulish shorthand.

What was Bach's famous quote? ›

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.

What did Einstein say about Bach? ›

It's hard to think of a more refined brain than Albert Einstein's, and yet it was he who famously uttered, “This is what I have to say about Bach – listen, play, love, revere – and keep your trap shut.”

What does the piano in the piano lesson symbolize? ›

The Charles family's piano, which resides in Berniece's house, symbolizes the family's history and identity—both their past sorrows and their hopes for the future. The piano belonged to the Sutter family, who once enslaved Berniece's and Boy Willie's ancestors.

What is Bach's famous song? ›

Johann Sebastian Bach

What is Bach's longest piece? ›

"Chaconne". Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 Mar.

What is that one piano song that everyone knows? ›

#2 Fur Elise - Beethoven

It's one of the most recognized piano pieces ever written. Fun fact: Beethoven wrote this piece to impress a girl.

What is the hardest piano to play? ›

The 12 Hardest And Most Difficult Piano Pieces Of All Time
  • Opus Clavicembalisticum – Sorabji.
  • Sonata No. ...
  • Piano Sonata No. ...
  • Ballade No. 4 – Chopin.
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. ...
  • Three Movements from Petrushka – Stravinsky.
  • Goldberg Variations – Bach.
  • Piano Sonata No 2 in B Flat Minor – Chopin.
Jun 12, 2022

What is the most beautiful classical piece ever written? ›

Definitively the most romantic pieces of classical music ever...
  • Puccini - O mio babbino caro. ...
  • Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No. ...
  • Elgar - Salut d'amour. ...
  • Puccini - O soave fanciulla, from La bohème. ...
  • Rota - Love Theme, from Romeo and Juliet. ...
  • Mascagni - Intermezzo, from Cavalleria Rusticana.
Feb 11, 2022

Who is the best pianist for Bach? ›

Probably most pianists would agree that the best Bach players on recording would be Glenn Gould, Roselyn Tureck, and Edwin Fischer. There is also a living pianist from Brazil, by the name of Jao Carlos Martins, who is exceptional.

Does Bach have perfect pitch? ›

Bach DID have Perfect pitch, as WTC1 was composed at a time when he did not have access to an instrument. I'd say all of the great composers would have at the very least, relative pitch. I think probably most of the Baroque masters had very good pitching, as they needed it really more than anyone.

Did Bach ever see a piano? ›

''Bach was familiar with the piano, you know. It was invented during his lifetime, and he not only played the piano, but actually composed at least two of his pieces specifically for the instrument,'' Mr.

What is the most beautiful piano song ever written? ›

7 of the most romantic piano pieces EVER written
  1. Liebesträume, Franz Liszt. ...
  2. Jeux d'eau, Maurice Ravel. ...
  3. To a Wild Rose, Edward MacDowell. ...
  4. Clair de Lune, Claude Debussy. ...
  5. La Valse D'amélie, Yann Tiersen. ...
  6. Nocturne in E flat major, Frédéric Chopin. ...
  7. Valse Sentimentale, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Feb 14, 2019

Who is the best pianist in the world? ›

Without further ado, here is our list of the greatest pianists of all time.
  • Maria Joao Pires (1944-) ...
  • Maurizio Pollini (1942-) ...
  • Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) ...
  • Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997) ...
  • Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) ...
  • Clara Schumann (1819-1896) ...
  • Jean-Yves Thibaudet (1961-) ...
  • Mitsuko Uchida (1948-)
Feb 18, 2022

Who is the best classical pianist today? ›

Lang Lang is arguably the most famous Classical musician of today and the ultimate modern Classical pianist. The Chinese pianist took an interest in the instrument at just two years old after being inspired by a Tom & Jerry cartoon (The Cat Concerto).

What is the saddest key in piano? ›

From there it's an easy skip to D, the root of today's subject, the “saddest key,” D minor. That the key of D minor is the key of true sorrow is ostensibly inarguable at this point in time.

What is the saddest piano piece? ›

10 Of The Saddest Classical Piano Pieces Ever Written
  • 1. “ Piano Sonata No. ...
  • 2. “ Prelude in E minor” by Frédéric Chopin.
  • 3. “ Piano Concerto No. ...
  • 4. “ Prelude in B Minor” by Frédéric Chopin.
  • 5. “ Gaspard de la Nuit” by Maurice Ravel.
  • 6. “ Funeral March” by Frédéric Chopin.
  • 6. “ Sonata No. ...
  • 7. “ Gymnopédie No.

What is the easiest piano piece in the world? ›

9 easy piano pieces to get you started on keys
  • Beethoven: Für Elise. ...
  • Debussy: Clair de lune. ...
  • Mozart: Sonata No. ...
  • J.S. ...
  • Einaudi: Primavera. ...
  • Schumann: 'Einsame Blumen' from Waldszenen. ...
  • Beethoven: 'Moonlight' Sonata (I) ...
  • Satie: Gymnopédie No.
Aug 17, 2020

What is the saddest classical piece? ›

The 10 best classical music tear-jerkers
  • Puccini: 'Sono andati? ...
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 'Requiem' ...
  • Edward Elgar: Nimrod from the Enigma Variations. ...
  • Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings. ...
  • Tomaso Albinoni: Adagio in G minor. ...
  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Come, Sweet Death. ...
  • Henryk Gorecki: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

What is the hardest music piece ever? ›

These are the definitively the hardest pieces of music to play
  • Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji - Opus clavicembalisticum. ...
  • Alexander Scriabin - Mysterium. ...
  • Franz Liszt - La Campanella. ...
  • Giovanni Bottesini - Double Bass Concerto No. ...
  • J.S. Bach - Chaconne in D. ...
  • Luciano Berio - Sequenzas. ...
  • Conlon Nancarrow - Studies for Player Piano.
Sep 11, 2017

What was Bach's last words? ›

3. Bach's last words. "Don't cry for me, for I go where music is born," Bach said to his wife as he lay on his deathbed.

What did Beethoven say about Bach? ›

Beethoven was an admirer of Bach. He often played the preludes and fugues of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Beethoven called Bach the "Urvater der Harmonie" ("Original father of harmony") and, in a pun on the literal meaning of Bach's name, "nicht Bach, sondern Meer" ("not a brook, but a sea").

What is the motto of Bach? ›

Soli Deo gloria is a Latin term for Glory to God alone. It has been used by artists like Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Christoph Graupner to signify that the work was produced for the sake of praising God.

Did Mozart know about Bach? ›

Bach then spent five months teaching Mozart in composition. Bach is widely regarded as having a strong influence on the young Mozart, with scholars such as Téodor de Wyzewa and Georges de Saint-Foix describing him as "The only true teacher of Mozart". Mozart arranged three sonatas from Bach's Op.

What was Bach's IQ? ›

165. That's the number music scholars and scientists have landed upon for their best guess as to J.S. Bach's IQ. While we can't measure exactly what Johann Sebastian Bach's IQ was, the IQ score that is widely accepted amongst studies is 165.

What was Beethoven's IQ? ›

Beethoven, by comparison, fell in the middle of the pack, with a score between 135 and 140, or smart enough to join Mensa. Still, I calculated the correlation between estimated IQ and eminence for just these 11 composers to be . 54.

What was Einstein's favorite song? ›

Inside Einstein's Love Affair With 'Lina'—His Cherished Violin. Albert Einstein reportedly played the violin beautifully and was a particular fan of Mozart sonatas. Please be respectful of copyright.

What happens in the brain when you learn piano? ›

Physical changes in the brain

Learning to play an instrument increases motor control, listening, memory (especially of audio information). The benefits extend beyond the activity of playing the piano into your everyday lives. They impact ability to plan, coordination, language skills, attention span and alertness.

What does learning piano do to the brain? ›

Adults who learn to play piano experience a decrease in depression, fatigue, and anxiety and an increase in memory, verbal communication, and a feeling of independence. Playing piano can also help alleviate symptoms of dementia, PTSD, and stroke, by improving cognition and dexterity, and reducing stress.

What is The Piano Lesson summary? ›

The play focuses on the arguments between a brother and a sister who have different ideas on what to do with the piano. The brother, Boy Willie, is a sharecropper who wants to sell the piano to buy the land (Sutter's land) where his ancestors toiled as slaves.

What was Bach's last song? ›

An aura of magic looms around Johann Sebastian Bach's The Art of Fugue. It is the composer's last masterpiece, left unfinished on his death in 1750.

What is Bach's most famous Passion? ›

Matthew Passion was first heard on Good Friday, 1727 in Leipzig, Germany. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his St. Matthew Passion for a single purpose — to present the Passion story in music at Good Friday vesper services. Bach's Passion continues to move audiences nearly three centuries after it was first heard in St.

What did Bach compose the most? ›

Johann Sebastian Bach composed over 1,000 pieces of music. Some of his most famous work included the Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier, and the Mass in B Minor.

What piano grade is Bach? ›

Bach's music starts from an early intermediate level (around grade 3) and gets progressively more difficult, all the way up to very advanced levels.

What is the best age to start piano? ›

What is the best age to Learn TO play piano? The best age to start piano lessons is typically between the ages of 6 and 9-years-old. While older students may have an easier time learning to play, students as young as 6-years-old can also learn since the keys of the piano are easy to operate.

What should piano Beginners learn first? ›

Learn How to Play Piano with the Musical Alphabet

Each of the white notes has a letter name. These letter names make up the musical alphabet, which is one of the first things a piano player should learn. The letter names of these notes link the piano to all other instruments and also to written music.

What is the longest piano solo? ›

The longest known piano piece is Erik Satie's Vexations, if we we overlook the requirement for a piece of music to be “non-repetitive”. Though undated, scholars predict the piece to be dated to around 1893-1894.

What does BWV stand for in Bach pieces? ›

BWV stands for Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, or Bach Works Catalog. Wolfgang Schmieder assigned numbers to J.S. Bach's compositions in 1950 for the cataloge Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach (Thematic-systematic catalog of musical works of Johann Sebastian Bach).

Which piece was Bach working on when he died? ›

As Bach neared the end of his life, he continued to compose some of his most famous and most challenging works. Mass in B minor completed in 1749, the Musical Offering in 1747, and made a start on the mammoth 'Die Kunst der Fuge' ('The Art of the Fugue', BWV 1080), which remained incomplete when he died.

Did Bach write any music for piano? ›

''Bach was familiar with the piano, you know. It was invented during his lifetime, and he not only played the piano, but actually composed at least two of his pieces specifically for the instrument,'' Mr.

What is the name of Bach's most famous cantata? ›

140 (Wachet Auf) Bach's famous cantata was written in 1731 as music to be included in a church service - despite its simplicity, it's now one of Bach's most famous in the genre thanks to its inclusion of a well-known tune.

Who is the best Bach pianist? ›

Probably most pianists would agree that the best Bach players on recording would be Glenn Gould, Roselyn Tureck, and Edwin Fischer.

Was Bach a musical genius? ›

In other words, he was scientifically classified as a genius. We're not really surprised though, a man who could improvise a six-part fugue: what else would you expect? An IQ of 165 means that Bach would be among the brightest 0.25 per cent of today's population.

Did Mozart know Bach's music? ›

Bach is widely regarded as having a strong influence on the young Mozart, with scholars such as Téodor de Wyzewa and Georges de Saint-Foix describing him as "The only true teacher of Mozart". Mozart arranged three sonatas from Bach's Op.

What keys did Bach write? ›

BWV 772a – Invention No.
  • in C major (alternative version of BWV 772) BWV 773 – Invention No.
  • in C minor. BWV 774 – Invention No.
  • in D major. BWV 775 – Invention No.
  • in D minor. BWV 776 – Invention No.
  • in E-flat major. BWV 777 – Invention No.
  • in E major. BWV 778 – Invention No.
  • in E minor. ...
  • in F major.

Who is more famous Bach or Beethoven? ›

In musical circles there is no debate, the answer is Beethoven. His string quartets the richest, his ninth symphony the pinnacle of symphonic achievement, the majestic Missa Solemnis, his piano works, his concertos and so on. He died in 1827 aged 56. Of the four only Bach lived longer dying in 1750 aged 65.

What language did Bach write most of his music? ›

[To Douglas Cowling] I should be very interested to know the sources which make you write. Bach wrote masterfully in German, Latin and Italian.

What is unique about Bach's music? ›

Most contemporary music is about love between two people. What makes Bach's music particularly striking is that it's about the love of God. This should present a hurdle to someone who, like me, doesn't believe in God - but it doesn't.


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