J.S. Bach: Sinfonia no. 15 in b minor, BWV 801

sinfonia XV

Manuscript of Sinfonia no 15

Polyphonic music playing is a very important skill in piano learning. This skill helps us to be used to split our attention to perform more than one melodic line simultaneously. But most of my students dislike them. They think polyphonic music is too complicated and chaotic.

Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias are the essential piano literature in mastering polyphonic piano music. It is widely used as teaching repertoire for intermediate level piano students. As Inventions are written in two parts only so I often teach some of them first.

Afterwards it comes more challenging Sinfonias. All of them are written in three-part. For me Sinfonia, no.15 in b minor is the simplest and easiest in Sinfonias. The distinguished repeated-notes subject and stepwise countersubject keep switching among three lines, with demisemiquaver arpeggios as episode. This makes us easier to “chase” and memorize the lines. More importantly, the piece mostly appears as in two-part texture. When it is in three-part texture, there always be one or two parts in long notes. This piece is so simple that I like to use it as an introduction to three-part piano work to my piano students.

The following soundcloud recording is the rearrangement of Sinfonia no. 15.

Thanks for the technology available.  I type this Sinfonia by music notation software and use its internal sound module to turn three parts into three different winds instruments as wind trio. So these three parts are played in three distinguished timbre.

I also made a slow version for practice and aural training.


Hope you enjoy it!

Copyright © 2015 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved


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