Prelude No. 1 in C Major (Bach) – ghost bar 23/24

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    Loonatik on #185551

    I recently went through some different scores for this piece.

    Gounod’s Ave Maria using the prelude as accompaniment seem to have an extra bar 23 (G-Eb / B-C-Eb-B-C-Eb) which is not present in the original prelude… i suppose.

    Both Prelude in C versions by yolanda kondonassis and another piano score I have did not have this bar 23.


    Sid Humphreys on #185567

    Look again, there is an extra measure in YK’s Ave Maria.This is in YK’s Christmas Collection. Also in orchestral scores. Prelude in C is a different piece (because of this measure).

    balfour-knight on #185569

    As a harpsichordist, I can say very definitely, Bach did not write this “extra” measure! Look at the Urtext version of the Prelude in C and you will be able to see exactly what Bach wrote. The extra measure was added solely for the purpose of accompanying the Gounod “Ave Maria.”

    allegra on #185602

    I started learning this piece last year and was interested in the history of it. There are various theories about who inserted the extra measure – for example, see

    balfour-knight on #185607

    Thank you, Allegra. The extra measure was either already there for Gounod, or HE added it. The “Ave Maria” will not work with the Prelude in C without the extra measure! It works as it was meant to WITH the extra measure. I play the Prelude on the harp and my wife sings the “Ave Maria” with only the Prelude as the accompaniment, and it works perfectly.

    allegra on #185609

    according to the dates in that link, examples of the extra measure were found before Gounod, so were added by someone in the interim. (but not JS Bach).

    balfour-knight on #185614

    Thanks again, Allegra. That is exactly what I noticed when I re-examined the link you sent. It is very interesting that the extra measure worked out so perfectly for Gounod–I have always been amazed that he could “hear” that beautiful “Ave Maria” melody against the Prelude, and that he made it work! It is a lot like the counterpoint going on in Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Now Thank We All Our God,” and many others. Of course, Bach took the Chorale melodies and really did something different with them!

    Incidentally, I do always put in that “extra measure” anytime I play the Prelude by itself, on harp, piano, harpsichord, or organ. I guess I have done it so long WITH the “Ave Maria” that it sounds wrong to me without the extra measure!

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