Bach Day post

Today, J. S. Bach would have been 333 years old. In honor of the day, this organ piece.

A “Toccata” in Bach’s day was a virtuosic type of prelude with somewhat improvisational character—the word comes from the Italian verb ‘toccare’, which means both ‘to touch’ and ‘to play [a musical instrument]’. Bach actually wrote two “Toccata and Fugue” pairs in D minor: the extremely familiar BWV 565 with its stark musical contrasts, and the misnamed “Dorian Toccata and Fugue” BWV 538 with its driving perpetual motion in the toccata. It is actually in D minor rather than D dorian, but the (in the modern era) unusual notation without a key signature led to the erroneous nickname.

Below is a scrolling-score video — the audio is a performance by the great French organist Michel Chapuis, in standard pitch. Enjoy!


Happy J. S. Bach Day!

Today, the first day of spring and (roughly) the vernal equinox, J. S. Bach would have been 326 if he still were alive. His body is gone, but his music lives on forever. “Bach is the beginning and end of all music” (Max Reger; more quotes about Bach here).

Bach was an avid experimenter with the musical technology of his day, and I’m sure he’d appreciate modern synthesizers. Below are two performance of one of his organ fugues (in G major, BWV 577, nicknamed “the jig” as it is in a jig/gigue rhythm): one on a conventional pipe organ, another on a battery of synthesizers.