Bach - Ave Maria

In 1853, a famous Bach keyboard prelude became a popular setting of the Ave Maria, today performed by singers and instrumentalists alike.

Often heard at weddings and funerals, this famous setting of the Ave Maria is based on J. S. Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C major from the first volume of his collection, The Well-Tempered Clavier. Some 137 years after Bach wrote his original Prelude, the Ave Maria was first published in 1853 under the title, Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de S. Bach.

The piece superimposes a melodic line over Bach’s piece, which - in the vocal versions - carries the Ave Maria words. The adaptation is usually attributed to the French Romantic composer Gounod.

There are many different arrangements of the work including for violin and guitar, string quartet, piano solo, cello, and even trombones. It has been recorded hundreds of times by choirs and by opera singers, including Luciano Pavarotti