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Encyclopedia > Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is the name of two different pieces of music by Johann Sebastian Bach for the organ: BWV 538 and BWV 565. While both are frequently recorded, number 565 is much more well known to the general public, so number 538 is frequently called the Dorian to distinguish them. The remainder of this article discusses BWV 565. Wikibooks Wikiversity has more about this subject: School of Music Look up Music on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Wikisource, as part of the 1911 Encyclopedia Wikiproject, has original text related to this article: Music Wikicities has a wiki about Music: Music MusicNovatory: the science of music encyclopedia Science of Music... The 1748 Haussmann portrait of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach (21 March 1685 – 28 July 1750)[1] was a German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra and keyboard drew together almost all of the pre-existing strands of the baroque style and brought it to... The Casavant pipe organ at Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, Montreal The organ is one of the oldest musical instruments in the western musical tradition, with a rich history connected with the Christian religion and civic ceremony. ... Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (Bach Works Catalogue) is the numbering system used to identify musical works by Johann Sebastian Bach. ...


This piece is attributed (though not without controversy; see below) to Johann Sebastian Bach, and is one of the best known works in the organ repertoire. It has been dated to between 1703 and 1707, and if this is correct, it would thus be one of Bach's earliest works. Events February 2 - Earthquake in Aquila, Italy February 4 - In Japan, the 47 samurai commit seppuku (ritual suicide) February 14 - Earthquake in Norcia, Italy April 21 - Company of Quenching of Fire (ie. ... Events January 1 - John V is crowned King of Portugal March 26 - The Act of Union becomes law, making the separate Kingdoms of England and Scotland into one country, the Kingdom of Great Britain. ...

Contents


The music

The opening of the work is probably familiar to most people. In the musical score it looks like this:

Opening notes of the "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". Click to hear piano reduction (218K)
Opening notes of the "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". Click to hear piano reduction (218K)

One of the more exceptional features of this work (in the whole of Bach's production) is that the composer used the same musical (melodic) material for both the prelude section (in this case a toccata) and the fugue itself. In Bach's later years generally the preluding section would normally be unrelated to the ensuing fugue. Works with a similar prelude-fugue thematic connection are: Download high resolution version (856x414, 26 KB)Score of opening notes of J. S. Bachs Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. ... Download high resolution version (856x414, 26 KB)Score of opening notes of J. S. Bachs Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. ... In music, the prelude is a musical form, a short dance/movement or an introductory idea to a larger work. ... Toccata (Italian for touched) is a piece of classical music for a keyboard instrument, generally emphasizing the dexterity of the performer. ... In music, a fugue is a type of piece written in counterpoint for several independent musical voices. ...

Considering these two most prominent examples of Bach boarding the theme with variations genre: The Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor (BWV 582) is the name of a piece of music by Johann Sebastian Bach for the organ. ... In music a passacaglia (French: passacaille, Spanish: passacalle or pasacalle) is a musical form and the corresponding court dance. ... In music a chaconne is a musical form. ... The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, is a theme and variations by Johann Sebastian Bach, originally written for the harpsichord but nowadays frequently performed on the piano. ... ...

  • They differ in the way that one (the Passacaglia) is an early work, while the other (the Goldberg Variations) is a very mature work, from the last years of his life. Also the latter is rather composed with a harpsichord in mind, the first undoubtably an organ work. Further, the Goldberg Variations exclusively use the (more sturdy) canon technique for every third variation, while the Passacaglia uses a more rhapsodic type of fugue as ultimate "variation".
  • They concur in that for both of these works the "theme" is a slowly progressing bass line, while for the Toccata and Fugue BWV 565 the theme is a "lead" theme, and a moderately fast one.

Apart from these differences, the style of the Toccata and Fugue is closer to that of the Passacaglia than that of the Goldberg Variations, especially the (seemingly) rhapsodic character. Harpsichord in Flemish style; for more info, click the image. ... The Casavant pipe organ at Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, Montreal The organ is one of the oldest musical instruments in the western musical tradition, with a rich history connected with the Christian religion and civic ceremony. ... A rhapsody in music is a one-movement work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, color and tonality. ...


Influence of other composers

The source of that rhapsodic type of treatment that is apparent in Bach's earlier organ works is not so hard to find: Bach was a great admirer of Dietrich Buxtehude in his early years: in 1706 he even absented several months from his job in order to hear Buxtehude in Lübeck. Diderik Hansen Buxtehude (ca. ... Events March 27 - Concluding that Emperor Iyasus I of Ethiopia had abdicated by retiring to a monastery, a council of high officials appoint Tekle Haymanot I Emperor of Ethiopia May 23 - Battle of Ramillies September 7 - The Battle of Turin in the War of Spanish Succession - forces of Austria and... Statistics State: Schleswig-Holstein District: Independent city Area: 214. ...


Buxtehude's organ works are characterised by an extreme application of (pseudo-)improvisation: when Buxtehude called a work "Prelude and Fugue", it might start with an odd bit of fugue, followed by some cadenza-like improvisation (possibly on another theme), yet followed by some more fugue or canon-like passages, some more virtuoso firework, etc... And Buxtehude loved fermatas, some serious pumping on the pedals, and other expressive techniques. Compared to this, despite the enormous influence of Buxtehude that is apparent in Bach's organ compositions, Bach establishes order and coherence in the patchwork-like idea Buxtehude seemed to have of a "prelude and fugue" or "toccata" type composition. In fact Bach, in his early organ works, synthesises this looser structure of an organ composition with what he had learnt from (amongst others) Johann Pachelbel's more organised approach (Bach was an indirect pupil of Pachelbel, through his brother Johann Christoph). Improvisation is the act of making something up as it is performed. ... A cadenza is usually now taken to mean a portion near the end of a movement of a concerto (though it can be at any point in a concerto; an example being the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto, where in the first five minutes a cadenza is used) in which the... Fermata A fermata is an element of Musical notation indicating that the note should be sustained for longer than the printed note would indicate. ... Johann Pachelbel (päkhəlbĕl) (August 1653 – March 3, 1706) was a German baroque composer and organist, best remembered for his Canon in D. Pachelbel was organist at Erfurt, in the Thuringian region of Germany. ... Johann Christoph Bach (December 6, 1642 - March 31, 1703), was a German composer of the Baroque period. ...


In comparison to earlier work in the same genre, Bach's work appears more tighly constructed and less in the character of an improvisation. Improvisation is the act of making something up as it is performed. ...


The organ test hypothesis

The exceptional number (even for Bach) of fermatas and broken chords in the Toccata and Fugue BWV 565 has been explained by some (for example, Klaus Eidam; see references below) on the supposition Bach composed it as a work to test an organ: the piece allows to test as well the velocity of the mechanics, as that the air supply installation must be without flaw.


Reception

The work is unquestionably a favorite of the listening public. This includes not just classical music enthusiasts, but also the many people who know the work only through its numerous appearances (see below) in popular culture. This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Popular culture, or pop culture, is the vernacular (peoples) culture that prevails in any given society. ...


Musical critics have also admired the work. For instance, it is described by (Uwe Kraemer) as having "ecstatic technical virtuosity and [also] mastery of form" and by (Hans-Joachim Schulze) as having "elemental and unbounded power ... that only with difficulty abates sufficiently to give place to the logic and balance of the Fugue".


Authorship controversy

In an influential paper ("BWV 565: a toccata in D minor for organ by J. S. Bach?", Early Music, vol. 10, July, 1981, pp. 330-337), Peter Williams argued that the work is not by Bach. In support of this view, he cites the following:

  • There is no autograph score.
  • The copyist who created the oldest known manuscript (Johann Ringk, 1717-1778) was a student-of-a-student of Bach, who had access to some of the Bach manuscripts and whose reputation is dubious: he is believed to have passed off inauthentic (as well as authentic) works under the composer's name.
  • The work abounds in fermatas and dynamic markings, not ordinarily used in organ music in Bach's day.
  • Lastly, Williams judges that various musical passages in the work are simply too crude musically to have been Bach's work.

William's views have more recently been endorsed in a book-length study by the musicologist Rolf Dietrich Claus, cited below. Fermata A fermata is an element of Musical notation indicating that the note should be sustained for longer than the printed note would indicate. ...


This view is further endorsed by the proliferation of undisguised consecutive fifths in the piece (no less than 10 bars in), which Bach was always careful to avoid. Even if the piece were a transcription of a solo instrumental work, these fifths still form an integral part of the work. In the course of the development of classical music from the Renaissance to the Baroque period, a number of musical rules sprung up which, although harmless to our modern ears, were considered taboo in the classical age. ...


Transcriptions for other instruments

This popular work has been transcribed many times. There are two types of transcriptions: these searching the original form of the work, and those primarily aiming at expanding the use of the work to new audiences: the violin transcriptions described below fall in the former category, all others mentioned here (which only are a few of the most notable examples) in the latter.


Violin

In the same article mentioned above, Peter Williams theorized that the Toccata and Fugue was not originally written for organ, but in fact is a transcription of a work for solo violin. Williams places this original violin work a fifth higher, in the key of A minor, so that the work begins dramatically on a high E and descends almost to the lowest note on the instrument: The violin is a stringed musical instrument that has four strings tuned a perfect fifth apart. ...

Peter Williams's conjecture about how the opening of the Toccata and Fugue appeared in an earlier violin version
Peter Williams's conjecture about how the opening of the Toccata and Fugue appeared in an earlier violin version

Under this account, many aspects of the work fall into place. Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, opening, conjectured violin version by Peter Williams Brief quotation from scholarly article by Williams in the journal Early Music (1981). ... Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, opening, conjectured violin version by Peter Williams Brief quotation from scholarly article by Williams in the journal Early Music (1981). ...

  • The fairly plain musical texture would reflect the general texture of Bach's well known solo sonatas and partitas for violin, which often convey a contrapuntal texture implicitly, rather than through double-stopping.
  • Various passages echo a violin technique in which sixteenth notes (semiquavers) are played by alternating between strings--Williams's conjectured key of A minor places many of these notes on an open string, which would fit with other passages in Bach's solo violin works.
  • The use of parallel octaves in the opening, otherwise unusual in Bach's music, would be a natural way to give greater weight to a solo violin line.
  • The passage at m. 137 strongly suggests quadruple-stopped chords on a violin, along the following lines:
Peter Williams's conjecture about how a passage of the Toccata appeared in an earlier violin version
Peter Williams's conjecture about how a passage of the Toccata appeared in an earlier violin version

Williams put his theory into practice by writing a reconstruction of the conjectured original violin work, which has been performed (by violinist Jaap Schröder) and published. The violinist Andrew Manze subsequently produced his own reconstruction, also in A minor, which he has performed widely and recorded. A double stop, in music terminology, is where a musician plays two notes simultaneously on a stringed instrument, for example a violin, a viola, a cello or a guitar. ... Download high resolution version (852x88, 8 KB)Music notation: Peter Williamss guess about how a few measures of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor looked in its (conjectured) original violin version. ... Download high resolution version (852x88, 8 KB)Music notation: Peter Williamss guess about how a few measures of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor looked in its (conjectured) original violin version. ... Andrew Manze is known as one of the best baroque violinists of modern generation. ...


The possibility that the Toccata and Fugue is a violin-to-organ transcription is supported by the fact that at least twice in his career, Bach is known to have transcribed solo violin works for organ. The Prelude first movement of the Partita in E major for solo violin, BWV 1006, was converted by Bach into the solo organ part of the opening movement of the Cantata BWV 29 Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir. Bach also transcribed the Fugue movement of his Sonata in G minor for solo violin BWV 1001 as organ music, namely as the second half of the Prelude and Fugue in D minor for organ, BWV 539. Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir (We thank you, God, we thank you) is a cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. ...


Piano

Around the end of the 19th century a "second wave" Bach revival occurred (the first having been the one launched earlier in the 19th century by Mendelssohn among others). In the second wave, much of Bach's instrumental music was adapted to resources that were available in salon settings (piano, chamber ensemble, etc.). The composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) was a leader of this movement, providing many piano transcriptions of Bach compositions, many of which radically altered the original version. Among them was a loud and virtuosic version of the Toccata and Fugue. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy at the age of thirty Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, known simply as Felix Mendelssohn (February 3, 1809 – November 4, 1847) was a German composer of the early Romantic period. ... Ferruccio Busoni Dante Michaelangelo Benvenuto Ferruccio Busoni (April 1, 1866 – July 27, 1924) was an Italian composer, pianist, music teacher and conductor. ...


Orchestra

Another Bach-revival wave announced itself in the 20th century. For this wave, which was probably the first major Bach wave in the United States, Walt Disney was instrumental: Disney favoured classical music and after including pot-pourri bits of classical music in most of his animation film scores, he tried out a more in-depth approach with Dukas's Apprenti Sorcier, which led to the project he considered one of his most important endeavours ever: Fantasia. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the... Walt Disney For the company founded by Disney, see The Walt Disney Company. ... Paul Dukas (October 1, 1865 – May 17, 1935) was a French composer of classical music. ... The Sorcerers Apprentice is the English name of both an 1897 symphonic poem by Paul Dukas (Lapprenti sorcier in French), and of a 1797 ballad by Goethe (Der Zauberlehrling in German), which inspired the musical work. ... Fantasia is a 1940 motion picture, the third in the Disney animated features canon, which was a Walt Disney experiment in animation and music. ...


This film opens with Leopold Stokowski's orchestral version (for a very extended orchestra) of the Toccata and Fugue, as an example of absolute music (i.e. where there is no extra-musical image built in to the music itself). Stokowski's rendering breathes a very romantic interpretation of Bach's music, making it into a showpiece of orchestral color, virtuosity, and sheer volume: at the time he had produced his transcription (1927) ideas about authentic performance were still more than half a century away, and nothing much had changed in that respect by the time Fantasia was released (1940). Leopold Stokowski Leopold Stokowski (April 18, 1882 - September 13, 1977) (born Antoni Stanisław Bolesławowicz) was the conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. ... Absolute music is a term used within the classical music field to describe music that is not explicitly about anything. ... 1927 was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... The authentic performance movement is an effort on the part of musicians and scholars to perform works of classical music in ways similar to how they were performed when they were originally written. ... 1940 was a leap year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ...


Stokowski's version inspired other settings for large orchestra of Bach's music, particularly his organ compositions. Eugene Ormandy released an album of such works, reviving, together with some fresh arrangements, Elgar's Op. 86, a pre-Stokowski orchestration of the Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor BWV 537, enriched with abundant harp strokes (Vinyl album reference: Bach: Orchestral Works, Philips Favourite Series - Minigroove 331/3 - S 04614 L). Eugene Ormandy in the 1950s Eugene Ormandy (November 18, 1899 – March 12, 1985) was a conductor and violinist. ... Sir Edward Elgar Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO (2 June 1857 â€“ 23 February 1934) was an English composer, born in the small village of Lower Broadheath outside Worcester, Worcestershire, to William Elgar, a piano tuner and music dealer, and his wife Ann. ... The harp is a chordophone whose strings are positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. ...


Flute

In 1993 Salvatore Sciarrino made an arrangement for solo flute of BWV 565. This transcription was recorded in the early 21st century by Maria Caroli (released on Zig Zag Territoires: ZZT 040802). A review by Peter Grahame Woolf of this interpretation can be found here: http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/SciarrinoBachCaroli.htm 1993 is a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ...


The Toccata and Fugue in popular culture

Apart from the transcriptions mentioned above, the Toccata and Fugue was included in many samples of popular culture: the films Fantasia (see above), Rollerball, Sunset Boulevard, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the musical/film Phantom of the Opera, and the video game Gyruss. Further examples follow: Fantasia is a 1940 motion picture, the third in the Disney animated features canon, which was a Walt Disney experiment in animation and music. ... Rollerball is a 1975 science fiction film directed by Norman Jewison from the short story Roller Ball Murders by William Harrison. ... Sunset Boulevard (also known as Sunset Blvd. ... Front page of Vingt Mille Lieues Sous les Mers 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (or Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) is a classic science fiction novel by Jules Verne, published in 1870 under the title Vingt mille lieues sous les mers. ... The title character as depicted by Lon Chaney, Sr. ... Gyruss is a shoot-em-up video arcade game released by Konami in 1983. ...

  • Vanessa-Mae recorded a version for her album The Violin Player (1994/1995). Vanessa Mae's version of the Toccata and Fugue also appeared in several remixes (by Bobby d'Ambrosio, Lectroluv, etc.).
  • Sky, John Williams' instrumental group, recorded the piece in 1980, with the main instrument being the electric guitar (played by Kevin Peek, also credited with the arrangement). The single reached the heights of the singles charts in several European countries in the summer of 1980. This spawned many imitations over the next decade or so.
  • "Imitation Situation" by Fever Tree (San Francisco Girls) (1967) opened with the opening figure of the toccata.
  • Virgil Fox performed a series of concerts of Bach organ works for rock music audiences in the 1970's, one of which included a dramatic performance of the Toccata and Fugue, to illustrate his view that Bach's music should be interpreted using all the available modern resources, as opposed to using only the means of expression that would have been available in Bach's time.
  • The Swollen Members song "Steppin Thru" contains a re-written version of the opening of the toccata as a bassline throughout the song.

Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson (born October 27, 1978), known on stage as Vanessa-Mae (in Chinese: 陈美, Chén Měi) is an internationally known classical and pop musician. ... 1994 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International year of the Family. ... 1995 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A remix is an alternate mix of a song different from the original version, made using the techniques of audio editing. ... Sky was an English based progressive rock band, formed in 1978 when classical guitarist John Williams decided to team up with Herbie Flowers, Francis Monkman, Tristan Fry and Kevin Peek. ... There have been a number of noteworthy men named John Williams: John Williams (actor) (1903-1983), actor John Williams (archer) American archer and Olympic gold medallist John Williams (author) (1922-), wrote historical novel Augustus John Williams (accordionist), Chicago-born accordion player John Williams (archbishop) (1582-1650), archbishop John Williams (composer... Fever Tree were an American rock group of the 60s chiefly known for their anthemic 1968 hit San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native). ... Virgil Fox (1912–1980) was a renowned organist, known especially for his flamboyant Heavy Organ concerts of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach for audiences more familiar with Rock and Roll music, staged complete with light shows. ... from left to right: Prevail, Mad Child, and Rob the Viking. ...

See also

This article contains passages or phrases in German that are in need of copyediting. ...

References

  • The fourth chapter of Klaus Eidam's The True Life of J. S. Bach (English translation by Hoyt Rogers ISBN 0-465-01861-0) elaborates considerably on the Toccata and Fugue BWV 565. A review by Yo Tomita of that book can be found here.
  • Peter Williams's article is available at the fee-charging Web site of Early Music; a summary appears at this link: [1], on the Web site of www.bachfaq.org.
  • Rolf Dietrich Claus's researches on the authenticity of the work are reported in his book Zur Echtheit von Toccata und Fuge d-moll BWV 565 ("On the authenticity of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565"), published by Verlag Dohr, 2nd ed. Cologne 1998, ISBN 3925366377. A English-language review of Claus's work by Yo Tomita can be read at this link.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2588 words)
The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 is a popular piece of music for the organ.
The possibility that the Toccata and Fugue is a violin-to-organ transcription is supported by the fact that, at least twice in his career, Bach is known to have transcribed solo violin works for organ.
Fugue In D Minor, released by Egg on their debut album, is a progressive arrangement of the Toccata and Fugue
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (280 words)
The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538, is an organ piece by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The "toccata" section of BWV 538 opens with a motoric sixteenth-note motif that continues almost uninterrupted to the end of the piece, and includes unusually elaborate concertato effects.
The fugue is long and complex, and involves a rather archaic-sounding subject which prominently features syncopations and an upward leap of a fourth.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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