Uniquely complex in both form and structure, this work by J. S. Bach is regarded as a pinnacle of Western music. No composer possessed a greater understanding of the workings of counterpoint than Bach. In The Art of the Fugue, he summarizes counterpoint’s entire known potential by using a very simple theme in the most complex possible ways.
This work proved to be Bach’s last, and the composer left the nature of its instrumentation undocumented. Despite numerous popular interpretations — including harpsichord, organ, string quartet, and orchestra — speculation persists that Bach intended it purely as an elaborate intellectual exercise. C. P. E. Bach declared its primary value as that of a teaching aid and a guide to composition. This solo keyboard edition was edited by Carl Czerny, a student of Beethoven and teacher of Liszt, who wrote hundreds of piano études that remain staples of piano training today. Modern pianists will find Czerny’s edition of this classic a source of unfailing variety and limitless imagination.