Interpreting Bach’s “Well Tempered Clavier”

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Well-Tempered Clavier

Johann Sebastian Bach

Frédéric Chopin

Welcome to the official MAPLE Lab Tempo Visualizer for JS Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier (Book 1). This tool is an online supplement to our publication exploring the use of timing in this influential work (Poon & Schutz, 2015).

These values are based on a survey of tempi for seven different sets of tempo markings – two by commentators and five by editors. These are grouped as two categories on the horizontal axis. We have also included Dr. Willard Palmer’s suggestions from this edition as a third category, in recognition to his contribution to understanding this set of 48 pieces.

To see tempo guidelines for a particular piece, simply select the type (Prelude/Fugue) and mode (Major/minor) as well as the pertinent pitch from the keyboard.

Created by Kyle Gauder



Major/Minor Color




Tempo's are calculated for common note duration.
Displayed in the tooltip are Palmer's original tempo measurements.





- Pianists
- Harpsichordists
- Editors

João Carlos Martins

June 25, 1940 –

Recorded in 1964 (age 24)

Acclaimed Brazillian classical Pianist and Conductor. His collection of the complete keyboard works of Bach are the most extensive series of Bach keyboard recordings by a single pianist.

Rosalyn Tureck

Dec 19, 1914 – Jul 17, 2003

Recorded in 1953 (age 39)

American Pianist and Harpsichordist from Chicago, Illinois. Tureck played Bach's pieces on the harpsichord following Landowska for a while before returning to the piano.

Jörg Demus

Dec 2, 1928 –

Recorded in 1970 (age 42)

An Austrian pianist. He has been active as a Lied accompanist and a chamber music partner. He received the Mozart Medal of the Mozartgemeinde Wien in 1979. Among his students is the pianist Domenico Piccichè.

Edwin Fischer

Oct 6, 1886 – Jan 24, 1960

Recorded in 1934-1935 (age 48-49)

Swiss classical pianist and conductor, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest interpreters of traditional Germanic repertoire of the twentieth century, and one of the finest piano pedagogues of the modern era.

Glenn Gould

Sept 25, 1932 – Oct 4, 1982

Recorded between 1962-1965 (age 30-33)

Celebrated Canadian pianist, five-time Grammy Award Winner, and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee. Gould was known for his eccentric habits, like always sitting very low at the piano on a chair his father made and practicing with loud background noise.

Friedrich Gulda

May 16, 1930 – Jan 27, 2000

Recorded in 1972 (age 42)

Austrian Pianist and composer who worked in both the classical and jazz fields. Was awarded the Austian Cross of Honour for Science and art (1959), and the Honorary Ring of Vienna (1989).

Sviatoslav Richter

Mar 7, 1915 – Aug 1, 1997

Recorded between 1972-1973 (age 57-58)

Soviet pianist known for the depth of his interpretations, virtuoso technique, and vast repertoire. He is considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.

Malcolm Hamilton

Dec 14, 1932 – Nov 22, 2003

Recorded in 1965 (age 33)

Harpsichordist from Victoria, Canada. He studied harpsichord at the University of Washington in Seattle and then taught piano and harpsichord at the University of Southern California for 30 years.

Martin Galling

1935 –

Recorded in 1964 (age 29)

German pianist, harpsichordist and chamber musician. In 2003 he founded the piano duo Galling-Olivieri. Galling used a modern harpsichord with stops not found on harpsichords modeled on ancient instruments, including a 16-foot stop.

Wanda Landowska

Jul 5, 1879 – Aug 16, 1959

Recorded between 1949-1951 (age 70-72)

Polish harpsichordist, teacher, and influential figure in the revival of the harpsichord as a popular instrument. She established L’École de Musique Ancienne in Paris (1925) and was the first to record Bach’s Goldberg Variations on the harpsichord (1930s).

Ralph Kirkpatrick

June 10, 1911 – Apr 13, 1984

Recorded in 1959 (age 48)

American harpsichordist and scholar who studied Art History at Harvard University. He received the John Knowles Paine Traveling Scholarship, enabling him to study manuscripts in Europe, and later he became a lecturer and performer at Yale University.

Gustav Leonhardt

May 30, 1928 – Jan 16, 2012

Recorded in 1967 (age 39)

Dutch keyboardist, conductor, and musicologist. He was greatly influenced by Bach and interpreted Bach’s works as leader of the Leonhardt Baroque Ensemble (later the Leonhardt Consort).

Anthony Newman

May 12, 1941 –

Published in 1994 (age 53)

American organist, harpsichordist, and composer, he is considered by fellow artists as “The High Priest” of Bach and of the harpsichord. Newman directs Bach Works and Bedford Chamber Concerts, and continues to perform today.

Dr. Willard A. Palmer

Jan 31, 1917 – Apr 30, 1996

Published in 1994

American pianist, accordionist, composer, Doctor of Music (Millsaps College, 1983), and expert of Baroque ornamentation. He co-produced music technique books under Alfred Publishing Co., which are still popular amongst music students today.

Dr. Hans Bischoff

Feb 17, 1852 – June 12, 1889

Published in 1883 (age 31)

German concert pianist and teacher, highly influenced by Bach’s works. He studied under pianist Theodor Kullak and later taught piano and theory at Kullak’s music academy. Bischoff earned a PhD in philosophy and modern languages from the University of Gottingen (1873).

Béla Bartók

Mar 25, 1881 – Sept 26, 1945

Published in 1908 (age 27)

Influential Hungarian composer and pianist. His musical works encompassed a wide range of styles, from string quartets to folk songs. Bartok was one of the early pioneers of ethnomusicology.

Carl Czerny

Feb 21, 1791 – Jul 15, 1857

Published in 1837 (age 46)

Austrian pianist and composer. He trained under Beethoven and later taught acclaimed pianists such as Franz Liszt and Theodor Kullak. Czerny composed over a thousand pieces, many of which are still used by music students today.

Edwin Hughes

Aug 15, 1884 – Jul 17, 1965

Published in 1924 (age 40)

American pianist and arranger. Hughes also taught at various schools, such as the Volpe Institute of Music, and performed recitals along with his wife, pianist Jewel Bethany.

Erwin Bodky

Mar 7, 1896 — Dec 6, 1958

American pianist, harpsichordist, composer, teacher, and musicologist. Twice, he won the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Prize for exceptional music students. Bodky later founded the Cambridge Society for Early Music.

Hermann Keller

Nov 20, 1885 — Aug 17, 1967

German musicologist and church organist. Keller taught at several institutions, such as the Grand Ducal School of Music and Institute of Technology, and was director of the Stuttgart Music Academy.

Bruno Mugellini

Dec 24, 1871 – Jan 15, 1912

Italian pianist, composer, and teacher. He was a key figure in refining piano theory and technique and published musical works as well as books about teaching piano.