Music: Johann Sebastian Bach and Fugue Essay

Submitted By shuwang
Words: 1508
Pages: 7

meant to serve as an intensive study of the fugue. Already a complex and various piece, The Art of the Fugue is a work of well over an hour in length, consisting of eighteen movements all based, in one way or another, on the same musical theme. This theme occurs in something like one hundred different forms throughout the piece. Art of the Fugue gains a whole new level of depth and significance. It placed inside its historical context, amidst the story of its creation. During the two hundred and fifty years of its existence, Art of the Fugue has acquired quite the reputation.

In the early 1740’s, Bach began work on many consider to be his most important project, Art of the Fugue. Bach intended this piece to be an extensive study of “the art of fugal counterpoint,” exploring the possibilities that can be produced by manipulating a single theme (“The Art of the Fugue”). Bach was not commissioned to compose this piece, nor was the idea inspired or suggested to him by anyone else; in creating Art of the Fugue, Bach was alone in his genius. The result of Bach’s composition was a collection of eighteen fugues, all in the same key, and all based on the same principle theme. This principle theme was modified and transformed into an astonishing number of over twenty different major variations and one hundred minor variations (“The Art of the Fugue”).

Art of the Fugue is a piece of special. It not only because of its musical genius, but also because it has become gave with an atmosphere of mystique. This from the fact that one of the movements which was left unfinished. By the late 1740’s, Bach was in the process of revising Art of the Fugue. However, his chronic eyesight problems progressively worse and he was forced to resort to surgery. After two failed operations, in 1750, Bach lost his sight completely for the last four months of his life. Despite these bad conditions, Bach continued work on Art of the Fugue until illness completely overtook him, forcing him to abandon his masterpiece.

The fugue fell out of favor, beginning in Bach’s lifetime. Bach was really the last composer focus on fugue, and after his death, the form virtually died with him. Bach's music and his fugue disappear in a century. Even Mozart and Beethoven had to be introduced to the beauties of Bach's fugues by a fans, both composers began to incorporate fugal elements into their compositions. It was only in the mid-19th century to a revival begun by Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann. They are in Bach's keyboard works, cantatas, and instrumental music made their way back into concert programs.

Art of the Fugue was often considered too abstract and abstruse. It is only in recent times that musical scholars have begun to develop the treasure of Art of the Fugue and appreciate the details of this piece. Scholars have started to question about the work, and solve some of the mysteries Art of the Fugue. The piece of some of its romantic mystique, establishing through handwriting analysis and Bach’s personal correspondence Art of the Fugue. It was really not his last creative piece, scholars have been able to focus on deeper questions and mysteries Art of the Fugue holds.

In 1905, Albert Schweitzer referred to Art of the Fugue as being a “purely theoretical work”. The piece was first performed in concert halls in 1927, over 175 years after its publication. The Art of the Fugue was meant to be purely theoretical is the fact that Bach himself never specified which instruments were to be used to play the piece. The fact that the music is “within easy reach of two hands, makes the harpsichord the most instrument for its performance”.

A new counter theme appears, consisting of the notes B♭, A, C, B♮. To most people, this would not have any special significance, but when taken in a different context, this short melody takes on a whole new connotation. In Germany, what we consider to be a B♭, they read as a B, and our B♮ is considered to be