The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, is a piece of organ music written, according to its oldest extant sources, by Johann Sebastian Bach. The piece opens with a toccata section, followed by a fugue that ends in a coda. It is one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire.
Scholars differ as to when it was composed. It could have been as early as c.1704 (when the presumed composer was still in his teens), which would be one explanation for the unusual features; alternatively a date as late as the 1750s has been suggested (Bach died in 1750). To a large extent the piece conforms to the characteristics deemed typical for the north German organ school of the baroque era with divergent stylistic influences, such as south German characteristics, described in scholarly literature on the piece.
Despite a profusion of educated guesswork, there is not much that can be said with certainty about the first century of the composition's existence other than that it survived that period in a manuscript written by Johannes Ringk. The first publication of the piece, in the Bach Revival era, was in 1833, through the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn, who also performed the piece in an acclaimed concert in 1840. Familiarity with the piece was enhanced in the second half of the 19th century by a fairly successful piano version by Carl Tausig, but it was not until the 20th century that its popularity rose above that of other organ compositions by Bach. That popularity further increased, due for example to its inclusion in Walt Disney's Fantasia (in Stokowski's orchestral transcription), until this composition came to be considered the most famous work in the organ repertoire.
A wide, and often conflicting, variety of analyses has been published about the piece: for instance, in literature on organ music, it is often described as some sort of program music depicting a storm, while in the context of Disney's Fantasia, it was promoted as absolute music, nothing like program music depicting a storm. In the last quarter of the 20th century, scholars like Peter Williams and Rolf-Dietrich Claus published their studies on the piece, and argued against its authenticity. Bach-scholars like Christoph Wolff defended the attribution to Bach. Other commentators ignored the authenticity doubts or considered the attribution issue undecided. No edition of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis listed the Toccata and Fugue among the doubtful works, nor does its entry on the website of the Bach Archiv Leipzig even mention alternative views on the attribution issue.
The only extant near-contemporary source for BWV 565 is an undated copy by Johannes Ringk. A broad estimate is that the manuscript was written somewhere in the period from ten years before Bach's death in 1750 to ten years after it. Ringk produced his first copy of a Bach score in 1730 when he was 12. Taking into consideration the evolution of Ringk's handwriting, one can infer that his copy of BWV 565 was written soon after his first copy of a Bach composition, which would narrow the date of his BWV 565 manuscript to between 1730 and 1735, when Ringk was around 15. At the time Ringk was a student of Bach's former studentJohann Peter Kellner at Gräfenroda, and probably faithfully copied what his teacher put before him. There are some errors in the score such as note values not adding up to fill a measure correctly: such defects show a carelessness deemed typical for Kellner, who left over 60 copies of works by Bach.
The title page of Ringk's manuscript writes the title of the work in Italian as Toccata con Fuga, names Johann Sebastian Bach as the composer of the piece, and indicates its tonality as "ex. d. #.", which is usually seen as the key signature being D minor. However, in Ringk's manuscript the staves have no ♭ accidental at the key (which would be the usual way to write down a piece in D minor). In this sense, in Ringk's manuscript, the piece is written down in D Dorian mode. Another piece listed as Bach's was also known as Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and was equally entitled to the "Dorian" qualification. It was that piece, BWV 538, that received the "Dorian" nickname, that qualifier being effectively used to distinguish it from BWV 565. Most score editions of BWV 565 use the D minor key signature, unlike Ringk's manuscript.
Ringk's manuscript does not use a separate stave for the pedal part, which was common in the 18th century (notes to be played on the pedal were indicated by "p." being written at the start of the sequence). Printed editions of the BWV 565 organ score invariably write the pedal line on a separate stave. In Ringk's manuscript the upper stave is written down using the soprano clef (as was common in the time when the manuscript originated), where printed editions use the treble clef.
All other extant manuscript copies of the score date from at least several decades later: some of these, written in the 19th century, are related with each other in that they have similar solutions to the defects in the Ringk manuscript. Whether these derive from an earlier manuscript independent from Ringk's (possibly in the C. P. E. Bach/Johann Friedrich Agricola/Johann Kirnberger circle) is debated by scholars. These near-identical 19th-century copies, the version Felix Mendelssohn knew, use the treble clef and a separate stave for the pedal. In general, the later copies show a less excessive use of fermatas in the opening measures and are more correct in making the note values fit the measures, but that may as well be from polishing a defective source as from deriving from a cleaner earlier source. In the later copies the work is named for instance "Adagio" and "Fuga" (for the respective parts of the work), or "Toccata" for the work as a whole.
The name "Toccata" is most probably a later addition, similar to the title of Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, BWV 564, because in the Baroque era such organ pieces would most commonly be called simply Prelude (Praeludium, etc.) or Prelude and Fugue. Ringk's copy abounds in Italian tempo markings, fermatas (a characteristic feature of Ringk's copies) and staccato dots, all very unusual features for pre–1740 German music.
German organ schools are distinguished into north German (e.g. Dieterich Buxtehude) and south German (e.g. Johann Pachelbel). The composition has stylistic characteristics from both schools: the stylus phantasticus, and other north German characteristics are most apparent. However, the numerous recitative stretches are rarely found in the works of northern composers and may have been inspired by Johann Heinrich Buttstett, a pupil of Pachelbel, whose few surviving free works, particularly his Prelude and Capriccio in D minor, exhibit similar features. A passage in the fugue of BWV 565 is an exact copy of a phrase in one of Johann Pachelbel's D minor fantasias, and the first half of the subject is based on this Pachelbel passage as well. At the time it was however common practice to create fugues on other composers' themes.
Performed by Ashtar Moïra on organ (8 minutes, 45 seconds)
Problems playing this file? See media help.
The Toccata begins with a single-voice flourish in the upper ranges of the keyboard, doubled at the octave. It then spirals toward the bottom, where a diminished seventh chord appears (which actually implies a dominant chord with a minor 9th against a tonic pedal), built one note at a time. This resolves into a D major chord:
Three short passages follow, each reiterating a short motif and doubled at the octave. The section ends with a diminished seventh chord which resolved into the tonic, D minor, through a flourish. The second section of the Toccata is a number of loosely connected figurations and flourishes; the pedal switches to the dominant key, A minor. This section segues into the third and final section of the Toccata, which consists almost entirely of a passage doubled at the sixth and comprising reiterations of the same three-note figure, similar to doubled passages in the first section. After a brief pedal flourish, the piece ends with a D minor chord.
The subject of the four-voice fugue is made up entirely of sixteenth notes, with an implied pedal point set against a brief melodic subject that first falls, then rises. Such violinistic figures are frequently encountered in Baroque music and that of Bach, both as fugue subjects and as material in non-imitative pieces. Unusually, the answer is in the subdominant key, rather than the traditional dominant. Although technically a four-part fugue, most of the time there are only three voices, and some of the interludes are in two, or even one voice (notated as two). Although only simple triadic harmony is employed throughout the fugue, there is an unexpected C minor subject entry, and furthermore, a solo pedal statement of the subject—a unique feature for a Baroque fugue. Immediately after the final subject entry, the fugue resolves to a sustained B♭ major chord.
A multi-sectional coda follows, marked Recitativo. Although only 17 bars long, it progresses through five tempo changes. The last bars are played Molto adagio, and the piece ends with a minor plagal cadence.
The performance time of the piece is usually around nine minutes, but shorter performance times (e.g. 8:15) and execution times of over 10:30 exist. The first section of the piece, the Toccata, takes somewhat less than a third of the total performance time.
As was common practice for German music of the 17th century, the intended registration is not specified, and performers' choices vary from simple solutions such as organo pleno to exceedingly complex ones, like those described by Harvey Grace.
In the first century of its existence the entire reception history of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor consists of being saved from oblivion by maybe not more than a single manuscript copy. Then it took about a century from its first publication as a little known organ composition by Johann Sebastian Bach to becoming one of the signature pieces of the composer. The composition's third century took it from Bach's most often recorded organ piece to a composition with an unclear origin. Despite Mendelssohn's opinion that it was "at the same time learned and something for the people", followed by a fairly successful piano transcription in the second half of the 19th century, it was not until the 1900s that it rose above the average notability of an organ piece by Bach.Stokowski's orchestration, featured in the 1940 Walt Disney film Fantasia, appears to have been instrumental in assuring its status as an evergreen by the 1980s, around which time scholars started to seriously doubt its attribution to Bach.
The composition has been deemed "particularly suited to the organ", and "strikingly unorganistic". It has been seen as united by a single ground-thought, and as containing "passages which have no connection whatever with the chief idea". It has been called "entirely a thing of virtuosity" and "not so difficult as it sounds". It has been described as some sort of program music depicting a storm, and as abstract music, quite the opposite of program music depicting a storm. It has been presented as an emanation of the galant style, yet too dramatic to be anything near that style. Its period of origin has been assumed to have been as early as around 1704, and as late as the 1750s. Its defining characteristics have been associated with extant compositions by Bach (BWV 531, 549a, 578, 911, 914, 922 and several of the solo violin sonatas and partitas), and by others (including Nicolaus Bruhns and Johann Heinrich Buttstett), as well as with untraceable earlier versions for other instruments and/or by other composers. It has been deemed too simplistic for it to have been written down by Bach, and too much a stroke of genius to have been composed by anyone else but Bach.
What remains is "the most famous organ work in existence", that in its rise to fame was helped by various arrangements, including bombastic piano settings, versions for full symphonic orchestra, and alternative settings for more modest solo instruments.
In 1833 BWV 565 was published for the first time, in the third of three bundles of "little known" organ compositions by Bach. The edition was conceived and partly prepared by Felix Mendelssohn, who had BWV 565 in his repertoire already by 1830. In 1846 C. F. Peters published the Toccata con Fuga as No. 4 in their fourth volume of organ compositions by Bach. In 1867 the Bach Gesellschaft included it in Band 15 of their complete edition of Bach's works.Novello published the work in 1886 as No. 1 in their sixth volume of Bach's organ works.
In the early 1910s Albert Schweitzer collaborated with Charles-Marie Widor for a complete edition of Bach's organ compositions by Schirmer. In 1912 BWV 565 was published in its second volume, containing works of Bach's "first master period". Around the start of the first world war Augener republished William Thomas Best's late 19th-century edition of the work in volume 2 of their complete edition of Bach's organ works.
In 1950 the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis had been published: it was no longer needed to indicate the Toccata and Fugue in D minor as Peters Vol. IV, No. 4, as BGA Volume XV p. 267, as Novello VI, 1, or without "Dorian" to distinguish it from the Toccata and Fugue with the same key signature: hence it was simply BWV 565, and the other, the so-called Dorian, was BWV 538. The New Bach Edition included BWV 565 in Series IV, Volume 6 in 1964, with its critical commentary published in Volume 5 in 1979.Dietrich Kilian, the editor of these volumes, explains in the introduction to Vol. 6 that the New Bach Edition prefers to stay close to authoritative early sources for their score presentations: for BWV 565 this means staying close to the Ringk manuscript. Consequently, the name of the piece was again given in Italian as Toccata con Fuga and the piece was again written down in D Dorian (i.e. without ♭ at the key). However more modern conventions were maintained with regard to using the treble clef in the upper stave and using a separate stave for the pedal.
A facsimile of Ringk's manuscript was published in 2000. In the 21st century such facsimile became available on-line, as well as various downloadable files of previously printed editions. In 2010 Breitkopf & Härtel initiated a new edition of Bach's organ works, BWV 565 appearing in its fourth volume.
The first major public performance was by Mendelssohn, on 6 August 1840 in Leipzig. The concert was very well received by the critics, among them Robert Schumann, who admired the work's famous opening as an example of Bach's sense of humor. Also Franz Liszt adopted the piece into his organ repertoire: he used the glockenspiel stop for the Prestissimo triplets in the opening section, and the quintadena stop for the repeated notes in bars 12–15.
In 1926 the organ version of BWV 565 was recorded on 78 rpm discs. In a 1928 concert program Schweitzer indicated BWV 565 as one of Bach's best known compositions, considering it to be a youth work. Schweitzer's first recording of the piece was issued in 1935. In 1951 he recorded the work again.
A recording with Helmut Walcha playing BWV 565 on organ was released in the 1950s. In this, and subsequent releases of Walcha's recordings of BWV 565 for Deutsche Grammophon (DG) the evolution of "one among many" organ compositions by Bach to a definite signature piece by the composer is visible: in early Archiv Produktion times the sleeve listed organ compositions in the order they appeared on the recording without distinction; in the 1960s BWV 565 became listed first; by the 1980s the print of BWV 565 was larger than that of the other compositions; and in the 1990s Walcha's 1963 recording of the piece became the only piece by Bach included in DG's Classic Mania CD set with popular tunes by various classical composers. Similarly, Marie-Claire Alain's recordings of BWV 565 were listed in equal font as the other recorded works on her 1960s album sleeves, and in the largest font by the 1980s. US record companies seemed faster in putting BWV 565 forward as Bach's best known organ piece: in 1955 E. Power Biggs recorded the Toccata 14 times played on different European organs, and Columbia issued these recordings on a single album.
Here is elemental and unbounded power, in impatiently ascending and descending runs and rolling masses of chords, that only with difficulty abates sufficiently to give place to the logic and balance of the fugue. With the reprise of the initial Toccata, the dramatic idea reaches its culmination amidst flying scales and with an ending of great sonority.
Organists recording BWV 565 more than once include Jean Guillou,Lionel Rogg and Wolfgang Rübsam. Also musicians like Karl Richter who did not record organ performances all that often included BWV 565 in their anthologies. By the end of the century hundreds of organists had recorded BWV 565. In the 21st century several recordings of BWV 565 became available on-line, for instance a recording included in James Kibbie's Bach Organ Works project.
Bach's Toccata and Fugue were not performed on the organ exclusively: the title page of the first publication of the piece already indicated that performance on the piano by one or two players was possible. From 1868 to 1881 Carl Tausig's piano transcription of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor was performed four times in the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Many more piano transcriptions of BWV 565 were published, for instance Louis Brassin's,Ferruccio Busoni's, and Max Reger's transcription for piano four hands.
Tausig's version of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor was recorded on piano rolls several times in the first decades of the 20th century. In the mid-1920s Marie Novello recorded the Tausig piano version of BWV 565 on 78 rpm discs.Percy Grainger's 1931 recording on the piano, based on the Tausig and Busoni transcriptions, was written out as a score by Leslie Howard, and then recorded by other artists.Ignaz Friedman recorded the piano version he had published in 1944. The 1950s to the first decades of the 21st century saw half a dozen recordings of Tausig's piano version, and several dozens of Busoni's.
In Johann Nikolaus Forkel's early 19th century biography of Bach the work is left unmentioned: Forkel probably did not even know the composition. In C. L. Hilgenfeldt's biography it is merely listed among the published works. Hilgenfeldt considers the Toccata and Fugue in F major the most accomplished of Bach's toccatas for organ. Also in Karl Hermann Bitter's 1865 Bach-biography BWV 565 only appears listed in an appendix.
Philipp Spitta devoted somewhat less than a page to the work in the 1873 first volume of his Bach biography. He assumed the work was written in the first year of Bach's second Weimar period (1708-1717). In the form of the Toccata he saw more north German characteristics (Buxtehude's restless style) than south German (Pachelbel's simple and quiet approach). Spitta considered the fugue "particularly suited to the organ, and more especially effective in the pedal part." His description of the piece refers to long sections that surfeit the ear, "rocking passages which have no connection whatever with the chief idea" and organ recitatives alternating with "ponderous, roaring masses of chords". Spitta likened some phrases of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor to another early work, the Fugue in G minor, BWV 578.
Spitta also saw a rhythmic figure that appears briefly in the concluding part of the work (bar 137) reappear extensively elaborated in the keyboard Prelude in A minor, BWV 922, which he supposes to have been composed around 1710. In Reginald Lane Poole's 1882 biography the work is again merely listed. In the 1905 first version of his Bach biography Albert Schweitzer leaves BWV 565 unmentioned in the chapter on the organ works. In André Pirro's 1906 biography Bach's organ toccatas are only mentioned as a group. He considers none of them written before Bach's later Weimar years (so closer to 1717 than to 1708).
Up to this point none of the biographers seem to have given any special attention to BWV 565: if mentioned, it was listed or described along with other organ compositions, but far from being considered the best or the most famous of Bach's organ compositions or even of his toccatas. This was however about to change: in 1908 Schweitzer reworks his biography for its first German edition: from this edition he indicates the work as "well-known". After listing several organ works in which Bach showed himself a pupil of Buxtehude, Frescobaldi and various contemporary Italian composers, Schweitzer describes the Toccata and Fugue in D minor as a work in which the composer rises to independent mastery:
In the D minor toccata and fugue, the strong and ardent spirit has finally realised the laws of form. A single dramatic ground-thought unites the daring passage work of the toccata, that seems to pile up like wave on wave; and in the fugue the intercalated passages in broken chords only serve to make the climax all the more powerful.
In Hubert Parry's 1909 Bach biography the work is qualified as "well known" and "one of the most effective of [Bach's] works in every way". He calls the Toccata "brilliantly rhapsodical", more or less follows Spitta in the description of the fugue, and is most impressed by the coda: "it would be hard to find a concluding passage more imposing or more absolutely adapted to the requirements of the instrument than this coda." Apart from seeing Buxtehude's influence, he likens the theme of the fugue to the theme of the fugue of Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544, which he considers a late work.
Alberto Basso calls BWV 565 "famosissimo" (most famous) and "celebratissima" (most celebrated) in the 1979 first volume of his Bach biography, indicating that, somewhat unjustified when its quality is compared to other organ compositions by Bach, the popularity of these works hinges entirely on this composition. He sees it as a youth work composed before 1708, that with its underdeveloped fugue is stylistically eclectic but unified without breaking continuity. He links it to the northern school and mentions Tausig, Busoni and Stokowki as influencing its trajectory. Basso warns against seeing too much in the composition: it may be within reach of everyone but is neither an incantation, nor ridden with symbolism and even less a sum of whatever.
In his 1999 Bach-biography Klaus Eidam devotes a few pages to the Toccata and Fugue in D minor. He considers it an early work, probably composed for testing a new organ: the piece is excellent to test the technical qualities of an organ. For instance the crescendo that builds up through arpeggios, gradually building up to using hundreds of pipes at the same time, can show exactly at what point the wind system of the organ may let down. In this sense some of the more unusual characteristics of the piece can be explained as fitting in Bach's capacity as an organ tester.
Christoph Wolff qualifies BWV 565 as an early work in his 2000 Bach biography. He describes it as "as refreshingly imaginative, varied, and ebullient as it is structurally undisciplined and unmastered".
Before his 1906 Bach biography André Pirro had already written a book on Bach's organ works. In this book he devoted less than a page to BWV 565: he considers it some kind of program music depicting a tempest, including flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder. Pirro supposes Bach had success with this music in the smaller German courts he visited. All in all he judges the music as superficial, not more than a stepping stone in Bach's development.
In the early 1920s Harvey Grace published a series of articles on Bach's organ works. He considers that the notes of the piece are not too difficult to play, but that an organist performing the work is primarily challenged by interpretation. He continues with giving tips on how to perform the work so that it does not reach the ear of the listener as a "meaningless scramble". He describes the fugue as slender and simple, but only a "very sketchy example of the form". Grace refers to Pirro in his description of the piece, elaborates Pirro's "storm" analogy and like Pirro he seems convinced Bach went touring with the piece. His suggestions for the organ registration make comparisons with how the piece would be played by an orchestra.
In 1948 Hermann Keller wrote that the Toccata and Fugue was uncharacteristic for Bach, but nonetheless bore some of his distinguishing marks. His description of the piece echoes earlier storm analogies: Keller saw the opening bars' unison passages as "descending like a lightning flash, the long roll of thunder of the broken chords of the full organ, and the stormy undulation of the triplets."
In 1980 Peter Williams writes about BWV 565 in the first volume of his The Organ Music of J.S.Bach. The author warns against numerological overinterpretation like Volker Gwinner's. Many parts of the composition are described as typical for Bach. Williams sees stylistic matches with Pachelbel, with the north German organ school, with the Italian violin school, but sees as well various unusual features of the composition. Williams questions the authenticity of the piece, based on its various unusual features, and elaborates the idea that the piece may have a violin version ancestor. The reworked edition of this book, in one volume, appears in 2003 and devotes more pages to the authenticity and prior version issues regarding BWV 565: in the meanwhile Williams had written his 1981 article on the authenticity of BWV 565, followed by numerous publications by other scholars about the same.
J. S. Bach as Organist, a 1986 collection of essays edited by George Stauffer and Ernest May, spoke about the registration Bach would have used for BWV 565.
Problems playing these files? See media help.
Around the same time as Grace made orchestral version comparisons in his performance suggestions, Edward Elgar was producing his orchestrations of two organ pieces by Bach, however not choosing BWV 565 for this: Elgar did not particularly like that work, nor Schweitzer's glowing comments about it.
In 1927 Leopold Stokowski recorded his orchestration of BWV 565 with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Soon the idea was emulated by other musicians: an orchestration was performed in Carnegie Hall in 1928, Henry Wood (pseudonymously, as "Paul Klenovsky") realised his orchestration before the end of the decade, by the mid 1930s Leonidas Leonardi had published his orchestration, and Alois Melichar's orchestration was recorded in 1939.
In 1947 Eugene Ormandy recorded his orchestration of the piece with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The score of Stokowski's arrangement was published in 1952. Other orchestrations of the piece were provided by Fabien Sevitzky,René Leibowitz (1958),Lucien Cailliet (1967) and Stanis?aw Skrowaczewski (1968).
BWV 565 was used as film music well before the sound film era, becoming a cliché to illustrate horror and villainy. Its first uses in sound film included the 1931 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the 1934 film The Black Cat.
From 1936 another approach to using BWV 565 in film was in the make: Oskar Fischinger suggested to Stokowski abstract animations could be combined with his orchestral version of BWV 565, but the Disney studios were initially slow in accepting the idea. By the time Fantasia was released in 1940, the animations to Bach's BWV 565 had been made semi-abstract, but Fischinger's original idea to let the performance of the music start with showing Stokowski directing his orchestra was preserved. Narrator Deems Taylor introduced the piece as belonging in the category of absolute music. In the 1942 theatrical release of the film by RKO the Toccata and Fugue was entirely cut, only to return in a 1946 re-release. Fantasia contributed significantly to the fame of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
The 1950 film Sunset Boulevard used BWV 565 as a joking reference to the horror genre. The piece appears in many more films, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), where it is played by Captain Nemo on the organ of the Nautilus. BWV 565 also appeared in Fellini's 1960 La Dolce Vita. The 1962 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera used BWV 565 again in the suspense and horror sense. It is used "without irony and in an apocalyptic spirit updated from its earlier Gothic implications" at the beginning and end of the 1975 dystopian science fiction film Rollerball. BWV 565 was shortened to 2 minutes length and used as the intro theme for the French animation Once Upon a Time... Man for 26 episodes between 1978 and 1981.
A certain uneasiness regarding BWV 565 had been around long before the 1980s. From Hilgenfeldt in 1850 to Elgar in the 1920s to Basso in the late 1970s the extraordinary popularity of the piece seems to have taken scholars and musicians by surprise. From Mendelssohn's prophetic words, that it was something for both the erudite and the masses, only the latter part had really worked out. But scholars were getting involved: they analysed the composition's counterpoint as substandard. They said it was stylistically too close to the galant style to be an early 18th century composition. Its presumed time of composition had been shifted around: the composition was too modern to have been composed by a young Bach, and too simplistic to have been composed by a middle-aged Bach. Bach's genius could be invoked to explain the dislocated modernity in an immature composition, as commentators had done most of the time, but more and more scholars felt unsatisfied with such intangible explanation.
In a 1981 article Peter Williams reiterated the speculations with which he saw a way out of the conundrum, and which he had already announced in his 1980 book on Bach's organ compositions:
The analysis of the material sources for the piece, its oldest surviving manuscripts, was, although insufficiently pursued according to some scholars, experienced as too limited to give a conclusive answer to these questions: what was available from that branch of the research could be explained in opposite directions. Whether the more elaborate stylistic evidence was considered conclusive or merely circumstantial likewise depended on who was trying to prove what.
In 1982 David Humphreys suggested that BWV 565 may have been composed and/or arranged by Kellner, or by someone from the circle around Kellner. Despite many stylistic similarities, Kellner was outruled a quarter of a century later: "in comparison with the style of Kellner, BWV 565 more resembles the style of J. S. Bach"; "many of Kellner's keyboard pieces revealed that his style boasts pronounced galant elements ... this clearly stands in strong contrast to the dramatic style of the Toccata BWV 565". A violin composition by Bach's eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann, transcribed for the organ by Ringk was named as another possibility. According to 21st century statistical analysis Wilhelm Friedemann was however even less likely as composer of the Fugue than Kellner. The same research indicated that large portions of the Fugue were consistent with the style of Johann Ludwig Krebs, however with still more than half of the Fugue more likely composed by J. S. Bach. After initially confirming Williams' doubts about the authorship of BWV 565, statistical analysis left the attribution issue undecided by the second decade of the 21st century, failing to find a composer more compatible with the style of its fugue than Bach himself. In the words of Jean-Claude Zehnder, who was sympathetic towards the violin version reconstruction:
The matter still remains open, despite the scholarly discourse that began in 1981. Until proof of the contrary, BWV 565 should be considered as a work by Johann Sebastian Bach.
In 1961 Antony Davies remarked that the Toccata was void of counterpoint. Half a decade later BWV 565 was further questioned: Walter Emery advocated speculation as a viable method to approach the history of Bach's organ compositions, and Friedrich Blume saw problems with the traditional historiography of Bach's youth. Roger Bullivant thought the fugue too simple for Bach and saw characteristics that were incompatible with his style:
These doubts about the authorship of BWV 565 were elaborated by Peter Williams in a 1981 article. Hypotheses proposed by Williams in that article included that BWV 565 may have been composed after 1750 and may have been based on an earlier composition for another instrument, supposedly violin. Williams added more stylistic issues to the ones already mentioned by Bullivant, among others the parallel octaves throughout the opening of the toccata, the true subdominant answers in the fugue and the primitive harmonies throughout the piece, with countersubjects in the fugue frequently moving through thirds and sixths only. All of these characteristics are either unique or extremely rare for organ music of the first half of the 18th century.
In 1995 Rolf-Dietrich Claus decided against the authenticity of BWV 565 mainly based on the stylistic characteristics of the piece. He names another problem: in its first measure the composition contains a C♯, a note organs in Bach's time rarely had, and which Bach used only very exceptionally in his organ compositions. In his book on BWV 565, which he expanded in 1998 to counter some of the criticisms it received, Claus also dismisses the prior version options suggested by Williams (toccata being an unknown genre for violin solo compositions of the time). Several essays in John Butt's Cambridge Companion on Bach treated the attribution problems of BWV 565. Other biographers and scholars left these attribution and prior version issues unmentioned, or explained the atypical characteristics of the composition by indicating it was a very early composition by Bach, probably written during his stay in Arnstadt (1703-1706).
... the fact remains that the Toccata is strikingly unorganistic and modern to have been written by Bach around 1705, even if the form is that of North German toccata. There are, however, few organ pieces with so much spirit and drive, and why should not a genius like Bach, in youthful high spirits, have produced this unique work, which is in some respects half a century before its time and which could achieve a place as one of the most beloved compositions in all of music history?
The authorship debate continued in the 21st century: Wolff called it a pseudo-problem. Williams suggested that the piece may have been created by another composer who must have been born in the beginning of the 18th century, since details of style (such as triadic harmony, spread chords, and the use of solo pedal) may indicate post–1730, or even post–1750 idioms. Statistical analysis conducted by Peter van Kranenburg in the second half of the first decade of the 21st century confirmed the Fugue was atypical for Bach, but failed to find a composer more likely to have composed it than Bach. David Schulenberg indicates the attribution of BWV 565 to Bach as doubtful.Richard Douglas Jones takes no position with regard to the composition's authenticity. In 2009 Reinmar Emans wrote that Claus and Wolff had diametrically opposed views on the reliability of Ringk as a copyist inspired by their respective desired outcome of the authenticity debate: Emans thinks this sort of speculation unhelpful.
The other hypothesis elaborated by Williams suggests that BWV 565 may have been a transcription of a lost solo violin piece. Parallel octaves and the preponderance of thirds and sixths may be explained by a transcriber's attempt to fill in harmony which, if preserved as is, would be inadequately thin on a pipe organ. This is corroborated by the fact that the subject of the fugue, and certain passages (such as bars 12–15), are evidently inspired by string music. Bach is known to have transcribed solo violin works for organ at least twice: the 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 Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29. Bach also transcribed the Fugue movement of Sonata in G minor for solo violin, BWV 1001, as the second half of Prelude and Fugue in D minor for organ, BWV 539.
Thus a new format of adaptations saw the light: the reconstruction. Reconstructions of this kind have been applied to several other works by Bach, with variable success. A reconstruction for violin was presented by Jaap Schröder and Simon Standage. The violinist Andrew Manze produced his own reconstruction, also in A minor, which he has performed and recorded. In 2000 Mark Argent proposed a scordatura five-stringed cello instead. Williams endorsed violoncello piccolo or five-stringed cello as an alternative possibility in 2003. A new violin version was created by scholar Bruce Fox-Lefriche in 2004. In 2005 Eric Lewin Altschuler wrote that if the first version of BWV 565 was written for a stringed instrument the most likely candidate would have been a lute.
In 1997 Bernhard Billeter proposed a harpsichord toccata original, deemed unlikely by Williams. Billeter's argument makes however authorship by Bach more likely: Bach's harpsichord toccatas (most of them early works) have similar simplisms and quirks as BWV 565. Bach's early keyboard works, especially the free ones like Preludes and Toccatas, cannot always be clearly distinguished in organ pieces and harpsichord pieces: Spitta had already remarked a similarity between a passage in BWV 565 and one in the harpsichord Prelude BWV 921, Robert Marshall compares respectively the continuation patterns and sequences of the harpsichord Toccata BWV 911, and the Fugue theme of the harpsichord Toccata BWV 914, with the same of BWV 565.
Recordings of BWV 565 that have appeared on popular music charts include Sky's 1981 rock-inspired recording (#83 on Billboard Hot 100) and Vanessa-Mae's 1996 violin recording (#24 on the Billboard charts). In 1993, Salvatore Sciarrino made an arrangement for solo flute, recorded by Mario Caroli. A version for solo horn was made by Zsolt Nagy and has been performed by Frank Lloyd. In the mid-1990s Fred Mills, then trumpet player for Canadian Brass, created an adaptation for brass quintet that became a worldwide standard for brass ensembles.
References consisting of a last name and date refer to an entry in the Sources section below:
Unless otherwise indicated all weblinks in numbered footnotes checked and accessed 09:13, 6 April 2016 (UTC).
|Version provided by||Date||Place||Publisher||Series||Volume||BWV 565|
|Ringk, Johannes||c.1740-1760||Germany||Berlin State Library (facsimile)||D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 595[a]||Fascicle 8 (pp. 57-64)[a]||pedaliter ex d # di J. S. Bach[b]|
|Marx, Adolph Bernhard||1833||Leipzig||Breitkopf & Härtel||Johann Sebastian Bach's noch wenig bekannte Orgelcompositionen: auch am Pianoforte von einem oder zwei Spielern ausführbar||Vol. 3 (of 3)||No. 9 Toccata (pp. 12-19)[b]|
|Griepenkerl, Friedrich Konrad
|1846||Leipzig||C. F. Peters||Johann Sebastian Bach's Compositionen für die Orgel||Vol. IV (plate 243)||No. 4 (p. 24 ff.)|
|Tausig, Carl||c.1860s||Berlin||Schlesinger||Toccata und Fuge (D moll) für die Orgel (Pedal und Manual) von Johann Sebastian Bach für das Clavier zum Conzertvortrag frei bearbeitet||Toccata (pp. 2-6) - Fuge (pp. 7-15)[b]|
|Rust, Wilhelm||1867||Leipzig||Breitkopf & Härtel||Bach-Gesellschaft-Ausgabe||Band XV: Orgelwerke, Band 1 ("Vorwort")[a]||Toccata II (pp. 267-275)[b]|
|Bridge, John Frederick
|1886||London||Novello & Co||The Organ Works of John Sebastian Bach||Book VI: Toccata, Preludes, and Fugues||No. 1 (pp. 2-9)|
|Busoni, Ferruccio||1899||Leipzig||Breitkopf & Härtel||Zwei Orgeltoccaten = Two organ toccatas = Deux toccates d'orgue von Joh. Sebastian Bach auf das Pianoforte übertragen (BV B 29)||No. 2: Toccata in D moll = D minor = ré mineur (Toccata e fuga)||Toccata in D moll (pp. 2-17)[b]|
|Reger, Max||c.1911||London||Augener||Selection of Joh. Seb. Bach's Organ Works transcribed for Pianoforte Duet||No. 2: Toccata & Fugue in D minor||Toccata und Fuge (pp. 2-21)[b]|
|1912||New-York||G. Schirmer||Johann Sebastian Bach. Complete Organ Works: a critico-practical edition in eight volumes provided with a preface containing general observations on the manner of performing the preludes and fugues and suggestions for the interpretation of the compositions contained in each volume||Volume II: Preludes and fugues of the first master period||No. 15|
|Best, William Thomas
Hull, Arthur Eaglefield
|1914||London||Augener||Johann Sebastian Bach's Organ Works||Volume II: Preludes, Fugues, Fantasia and Toccatas||p. 271 ff.|
|Friedman, Ignaz||1944||Melbourne||Allans Publishing||Toccata and Fugue (D minor)[b]|
|Stokowski, Leopold||1952||New York||Broude Brothers||Symphonic transcription published from the library of Leopold Stokowski.||Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Duration: 9 minutes)|
|Kilian, Dietrich||1964||Kassel||Bärenreiter||New Bach Edition, Series IV: Organ Works||Organ Works 6: Preludes, Toccatas, Fantasias and Fugues II - Early Versions and Variants of I and II[a]||Toccata con Fuga in d BWV 565|
||1990s||USA||Hal Leonard||Brass Ensemble||Toccata and Fugue in D Minor|
|Zehnder, Jean-Claude||2011||Leipzig||Breitkopf & Härtel||Complete Organ Works - Breitkopf Urtext||Vol. 4: Toccatas and Fugues / Individual Works - with CD-ROM[a]||No. 3 Toccata et Fuga in d BWV 565 (pp. 56-65)|
|Performed by||Date||Place||Issued by||Series||Volume||BWV 565|
|between 1902 and 1915||New York||The Aeolian Company||Piano roll||Toccata and fugue in D minor arranged for pianoforte solo by C. Tausig||tempo 70; 28,5 cm|
|Bloomfield Zeisler, Fannie||1912||Welte-Mignon||Piano roll||Toccata & Fugue in D minor (Tausig transcription)||(9:19)|
|London||Edison Bell||Velvet Face||No. 676: Organ Toccata & Fugue: Pianoforte Solo (Bach, Tausig)||Two 78 rpm disc sides: Pt. 1, Pt. 2|
|Cunningham, G. D.||1926||Kingsway Hall, London||His Master's Voice||No. C 1291: Toccata and fugue in D minor||78 rpm disc|
|April 6, 1927||Academy of Music, Philadelphia||Victor||Red Seal "Electric" recording||Toccata and Fugue in D minor (Stokowski transcription)||Two 78 rpm disc sides (8:53)|
|Schweitzer, Albert||1935||All Hallows-by-the-Tower, London||Columbia||Albert Schweitzer plays Bach[a]||No. 6 (9:04)|
|1940||Academy of Music, Philadelphia||Disney||Walt Disney's Fantasia - Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra: Remastered Original Soundtrack Edition (1990)||CD 1 (of 2)||Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (9:22)|
|Walcha, Helmut||24 August 1947||Church of St. Jacob, Lübeck||Deutsche Grammophon||Archiv Produktion; Research period IX: Works by Johann Sebastian Bach; Series F: Organ works||Prelude and fugue, E minor, BWV 548; Prelude and fugue, A minor, BWV 551; Prelude and fugue, C major, BWV 547; Toccata and fugue, D minor, BWV 565||No. 4 (9:15)|
|Schweitzer, Albert||1951||Gunsbach, Alsace||Columbia||J. S. Bach: Organ Music||Vol. IV[a]||No. 3 (10:31)|
|Biggs, E. Power||1955||Europe (14 different organs)||Columbia||Bach: Toccata in D minor (A Hi-Fi Adventure)||e.g. London, Royal Festival Hall||Side 2 No. 6|
|Biggs, E. Power||1960||Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard||Columbia||Bach: Organ Favorites||Bach: Great Organ Favorites (Columbia 42644, re-issued as CD by CBS in 2011, with liner notes by Hans-Joachim Schulze)||Toccata (2:28), Fugue (5:54)|
|Walcha, Helmut||1963||Grote Sint Laurenskerk, Alkmaar||Deutsche Grammophon||Classic Mania (issued 1991)||CD 2, No. 4 (2:37, Toccata only - Fugue of that 1963 recording had been 6:52)|
|Alain, Marie-Claire||1959-1968||Sankta Maria kyrka, Helsingborg||Erato||J. S. Bach - L'OEuvre Pour Orgue - Intégrale en 24 disques||Vol. 3: Toccatas & Fugues en ré mineur bwv 565 - en fa majeur bwv 540 / Préludes & Fugues en do majeur bwv 545 - en mi majeur bwv 533 - Fugue en sol mineur bwv 578||Toccata & Fugue en ré mineur bwv 565 (8:42)|
|Richter, Karl||1964||Jaegersborg Church, Copenhagen||Deutsche Grammophon||Johann Sebastian Bach: Toccata & Fuge / Famous Organ Works||Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (8:56)|
|Alain, Marie-Claire||1982||Collégiale de Saint-Donat, Drôme||Erato||Toccata & Fugue / Passacaglia / Fugue / Concerto / Fantaisie & Fugue||Toccata & Fugue en ré mineur D minor/D Moll BWV 565 (8:15)|
|Preston, Simon||1988||Kreuzbergkirche, Bonn||Deutsche Grammophon||Toccata & Fugue BVW 565 - Preludes & Fugues BVW 532 & 552 - Fantasia BWV 572 - Pastorale BVW 590||Toccata: Adagio (2:31)|
|Fagius, Hans||1988||Fredrik Church, Karlskrona||Brilliant Classics||Bach Edition||CD 151 - Organ Works: Toccata & Fuga BWV 565/Concerto BWV 594/Praeludium & Fuga BWV 548/"Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr" BWV 711-715/717 (issued c.2000)||Nos. 1-2 (8:54)|
|Kibbie, James||2007-2009||Stadtkirche, Waltershausen||Block M Records (University of Michigan)||Bach Organ Works||BWV 565: Toccata con Fuga in d / Toccata and Fugue in D Minor||AAC - MP3[a] (9:16)|
Mixed media (sheet music and recordings)