The Clavierübung published in four sections belongs to the few works of Bach that he allowed to be printed during his lifetime. Part I, which appeared in print in 1731, contains the six Partitas; Parts II–IV were issued in 1735, 1739 and 1741/2. These are the parts that form the basis for the compilation that we find in this volume.
The Italian Concerto and the French Overture constitute Part II and, in a way, serve as a kind of echo of French and Italian orchestral music of the time, here transposed to the keyboard. The Four Duets are contained in Part III of the Clavierübung, next to important works for the organ; however, since they are conceived for two parts, they are ideal for piano or harpsichord.

Finally, the Goldberg Variations form Part IV of the Clavierübungen. According to Bach’s first biographer, Johann Nikolaus Forkel, a Count von Keyserlingk had requested a work from Bach. It was intended for the nobleman’s harpsichordist Johann Gottlieb Goldberg so that he could play pieces of “a gentle and light character” during the Count’s sleepless nights. The result was art-works of the very highest order.