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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Das Wohltemperierte Klavier (2nd of 2)

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The second of our two-part Once Upon the Internet look at the Well-Tempered Clavier provides the second book from the 1968-71 set recorded by Jörg Demus.

According to the Bach Cantatas Website (link provided above), Austrian pianist Jörg Demus has maintained a substantive solo career, noted for combining a basically Romantic sound and line with an interest in historic keyboard interpretation and early model pianos. He is especially noted for personal interpretations of Bach and flexible, colourful renditions of Debussy. He also is well regarded for the main line of German piano music from Mozart to Schumann, and for his performances of the piano music of César Franck.

Jörg Demus received his first piano lessons at the age of six. At the age of 11, he was admitted to the Vienna Academy of Music, where he studied piano with Walter Kerschbaumer, organ with Karl Walter, conducting with Hans Swarowsky and Joseph Krips and composition with Joseph Marx, graduating in 1945. After completing these studies in Vienna, he went abroad to study with Yves Nat in Paris from 1951 to 1953. In 1953, he attended master-classes with Walter Gieseking at the Saarbrücken Conservatory, and further studied with Wilhelm Kempff, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and Edwin Fischer.

At 14 years old, while still a student at the Conservatory, he made his debut as a pianist at the famous Brahms-Saal for the prestigious Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. In 1950 Jörg Demus gave his first concerts in Zürich and London and in 1951 went on his first extended tour to South America. His debut in Paris in 1953 at the Salle Gaveau turned into a regular sensation. In 1956 he won the important “Premio Busoni” at the International Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy.

Since that time he has performed in all the important music centers of the Old and the New World, and has often played under the baton of Herbert von Karajan, Joseph Krips, Carlo Zecchi, André Cluytens, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Seiji Ozawa and many others.

Jörg Demus is also known as a sensitive accompanist, and worked with singers of the highest calibre, including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elly Ameling. His version of Schubert's Winterreise, with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, is perhaps the most critically acclaimed of all recordings of this great song cycle. He also accompanied violinists (Josef Suk, for instance) and cellists (Antonio Janigro). He sometimes appears in piano duet and two-piano concerts with Paul Badura-Skoda, who shares Demus' interest in older keyboard instruments.

Many of his recordings have won international awards. Up to now Jörg Demus has achieved a repertory of more than 350 LP's, compact discs and video-recordings. He has recorded the complete piano works of Robert Schumann and Claude Debussy, J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered-Clavier and Clavierübung, piano concerti of J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, L.v. Beethoven and Schumann, as well as important works of chamber music with the Wiener Philharmonisches Kammerensemble and Lieder, mainly with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elly Ameling and Peter Schreier. In 1977 Jörg Demus was awarded the Beethoven-Ring of the Vienna Beethoven Society, and in 1979 the Mozart Medal of the Vienna Mozart Society; in 1981 he received Honorary Doctor degree of Amherst, and in 1986 the Schumann Award of Zwickau.

More WTC Recordings openly available

The above link to the Bach Cantats Website provides a comprehensive list of recordings of WTC Book 2 (and Book 1 here ) from the 1920’s until today.

If you wish to compare Demus’ performances to those of other pianists, YouTube is full of recordings of these Preludes and Fugues. I have created a specific playlist of Glenn Gould’s complete Book 1 and 2 recordings , and also some from a number of amateur pianists at the Piano Society’s website (

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues (The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II), BWV 870-893
Jörg Demus (Piano)
(Studio recording, 1971)
MP3.COM Download 28 Nov 2001)

Performance URL (Internet Archive):

October 25, 2013, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Back to Bach - Vokalwerke" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more October 25 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Mar-25-2015 at 12:49 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Musicians , Recorded Music