November 2, 2005

But did he write Shakespeare's plays?

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at November 2, 2005 1:50 PM

Wow, apparently Bach didn't write the Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor:

Scholars now think the Toccata was originally a violin piece Bach transcribed.

"If you know the piece you can just see it was written for the violin," says Don Franklin, a Pitt musicologist specializing in the composer. "It has idiomatic figuration for the violin [and] the initial statement of the fugue subject can easily be played on the D string, crossing over to touch the G string."

The opening of the Toccata, too, is violin-like, offering "the solo violin an opportunity to drop down through its four strings," writes Williams. And there are other nuances that add up to an organ piece covering up its origins.

This hypothesis fits. "Bach did a lot of transcription," says Franklin, also past president of the American Bach Society. Perhaps this Toccata simply lends itself to transcription. After all, Leopold Stokowski's orchestral version worked out pretty well in "Fantasia" and in concerts.

The evidence all points to the fact that Toccata does not match organ music of the time, especially Bach's. It does fit the period's string music, however.


Via Marginal Revolution.

Tags: History, Music
Comments

What's weird about that is that the first version of Toccata in D I ever heard was a violin transcription of Bach's organ, which now apparently was a transcription of the original violin.

Crazy!

Posted by: Josh | November 2, 2005 3:19 PM

Hah. I've always said that I much preferred Bach's keyboard works. However, I never liked that particluar piece that much though...

Explained? Or maybe just rationalized.

Posted by: Kyle | November 3, 2005 5:44 AM

Bach did not write only organ music. If indeed Toccata and Fugue in D Minor was originally written for strings, then in all likelyhood it was written thusly by Bach. It's a master work through and through, and to suggest it was credited to Bach mistakenly is pure speculation. Unless and until the day when it can be tied with certainty to another composer. Such a composer would also have to be a genius, so comparable works should be available.

Posted by: Dude | January 12, 2007 12:37 AM
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