Tricentennial Bach Celebration Finds Home at Rienzi

Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy-nominated early music ensemble, celebrates 300 years of the Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach with a series of intimate performances at Rienzi, the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts. Artistic Director and international prize-winning harpsichordist Matthew Dirst offers eight pairs of preludes and fugues on each of two concerts. The first concert features two performances of the same music on October 16, 2021 at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and the second program takes place on June 4, 2022 at 6 p.m. The complete recording of “The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1” will also be disseminated online later this season as a Bi-Weekly Bach musical series with commentary by Dirst.

The Well-Tempered Clavier is the only work of Johann Sebastian Bach that never went out of style,” says Dirst. “ Unlike his church and chamber works, which were mostly forgotten soon after his death in 1750, it served as a kind of musical Old Testament for generations of students and enthusiasts—a role it still plays today.” The music is particularly suited to the intimate and ornately decorated rooms of Rienzi as this music was intended to be studied and performed among friends. The monumental work is rarely performed on harpsichord in its entirety, and the series of concerts reflects this intention.

Concert Information

Concert 1: Oct. 16, 2021 at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Preludes & Fugues in:

C-sharp Major

C-sharp Minor

A Major

E Minor

F-sharp Major

F-sharp Minor

G Major

F Minor

Concert 2: June 4, 2022 at 6 pm

Preludes & Fugues in:

A-flat Major

E-flat Minor

D Major

B Minor

B Major

G-sharp Minor

E Major

B-flat Minor

For tickets and subscription information, visit the Ars Lyrica website at The Well-Tempered Clavier at Rienzi concerts will also be recorded, and in-person subscribers and digital subscribers receive advance access to prelude & fugue sets from the series. While in-person subscriptions are now closed, digital subscription information can be found at

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music in its original context while creating connections to contemporary life. Intelligent programming features neglected gems alongside familiar masterworks, and extracts the dramatic potential, emotional resonance, and expressive power of music. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, “sets the agenda” for early music in Houston. Ars Lyrica appears regularly at international festivals and conferences because of its distinctive focus, and its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim.  

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