I'm Practicing Bach Prelude & Fugue in D . There is no pedal markings since it from Baroque eras , but i found in Youtube many Concert pianist Performing Fugue with Sustain Pedals. Am working for my Piano Examinations , so now am confused to use of pedals for my exams. Pls help me out

2 Answers 2


It depends on your approach. If you're taking lessons with an instructor, I'd ask them what they prefer. If you're being graded by university faculty, then I'd ask the music chairman what they are looking for as well.

Here's the two options: 1) Some pianists try to match the period as much as possible. If this is the case, Bachs music would've been composed during a time when pianos themselves were rare, most of his music being performed on the less versatile harpsichord or clavichord. If this is what you're striving for, I'd abstain from pedal.

2) I personally encourage my students to give the classics their own personal interpretation. After all, who's to say that if Bach had been around during a time when pianos with sustain pedals were common, he wouldn't have used the pedals to their fullest extent? If you prefer this method, you use them the way you think sounds best.

  • For what it's worth, on option 2 above, I personally think a composer of Bach's genius would've loved exploring all the nuances of what the pedaling could add to his works.
    – Kevin H
    Sep 3, 2018 at 2:22
  • Kevin- for what it's worth, I would agree with you on option 2, except that I suspect Bach would have been more inclined to use pedal on his more chordal compositions, and not on his fugues, where clarity of line is paramount. But who knows? Sep 3, 2018 at 8:38

As for what YOU should do, I agree with Kevin: you need to get what's expected of you directly from your tutor, teacher, or department, and follow their guidelines. You might also inquire with your fellow students to find out what their experience has been.

As for using the pedal on Bach: I think the goal should be to use the pedal for artistic reasons, not to shore up weak performing capabilities. A piece written pre-pedal must be playable without the pedal; if you can't do that then the pedal is being used as a crutch, not for artistic reasons. Once you can play without the pedal, it can be inserted where it makes artistic sense, for example to emphasize a fugal line with long note values that are difficult to keep a finger on for the full duration of the notes.

Good luck!


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