Fugue for Other Hands
Starting with the eighth fugue, new themes are introduced, but they are all in fact derived from this original theme. Excerpt 4 - Contrapunctus Excerpt 5 - Contrapunctus The final fugue was the last he was ever to write, and also his longest.
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Although he had often hidden the BACH motif in his music in German nomenclature it consists of the notes B flat, A, C and B here — for the first and only time — he overtly introduces it as the third main theme of this massive fugue. It is this fugue which has come down to us incomplete, and the reasons for this are disputed.
So the question remains open whether after his death, a final page went missing, or whether he had indeed composed it but not yet written it down, or even deliberately left it incomplete. What we do know is that there are almost certainly 47 bars missing and that here Bach would have combined the main theme of the entire work with the other three themes of this mighty fugue.
Its incomplete state creates a musical, aesthetic, philosophical and even moral quandary for the performer. This means that after almost 80 minutes of D minor, the work ends with a four-minute chorale prelude in G major. As one critic remarked, this makes no musical sense whatsoever, but it does make enormous non-musical sense. To the extent that music ultimately deals with existential questions of human existence, to conclude thus is perfectly valid. This writer, however, prefers to play one of the many attempted completions, in this case that by the renowned British harpsichordist Davitt Moroney.
A further contentious issue is for what instruments Bach composed this work. It is written in open score, that is, one stave for each polyphonic voice and, unlike almost every other work by Bach, no instrumentation is specified.
Already in it was advertised as being arranged in such a way as to be playable by two hands on a keyboard instrument, and this has led nearly all scholars to conclude it was conceived for the harpsichord. However, to assert that it is playable on the harpsichord is very different from saying that it was conceived for that instrument.
For the few fortunate purchasers of the original print, it would have been played on whatever instruments they could play and had available at home. The fact that the first complete performance of this work did not occur until has often been the subject of scandalised comment.
The Art of Fugue (BWV ), Transcriptions of the Conterpoints for two Pianos or Piano four hands
But Bach would never have envisaged a public rendition of any of these fugues, much less a performance of the complete work, which in any case was unthinkable in the context of the performance practice of the time. To drag it into the glare of the concert hall is akin to displaying mediaeval altar triptychs in modern art museums. In both cases, however, these are among the few avenues we now have to experience these marvels of Western civilisation.
So although Die Kunst der Fuga is a work of high art of the utmost seriousness, this does not mean that each individual fugue must be played seriously. Thus after the solemn opening fugue, the second fugue might almost be felt as a parody. The fifth, sixth and seventh fugues, all featuring prominent dotted rhythms, can be felt as, by turns, skittish, pompous and melancholy, while the 12th fugue borders on the tragic. This is in keeping with the late works of such diverse artists as Shakespeare, Beethoven and Goya, which exemplify how pathos, humour, gravity, exuberance and tragedy are inextricably enmeshed in the deepest recesses of the human psyche.
This article is appears in conjunction with upcoming performances by Daniel Herscovitch of The Art of Fugue at Brisbane Conservatorium at 7.
The Art of Fugue (BWV 1080), Transcriptions of the Conterpoints for two Pianos or Piano four hands
Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Bach in front of St. It is on this very subject—fugal answer—that the great composers depart most widely from the old rules. The new and, it is hoped, very simple rules given in Chapters III. Other composers are also freely drawn upon; but throughout the volume, in all cases of doubt, Bach is treated as the final authority.
In order to assist the student, it has been thought best to take the different portions of a fugue separately, that he may learn how to construct each part before he proceeds to the composition of an entire fugue. The chapters on Countersubject, Exposition, Episode, and Stretto, contain not only numerous illustrations from the great masters, but specimens of each, written expressly for the guidance of the student. While an endeavour has been made to make them musically interesting, it must be remembered that they are merely intended as exercises, and have no claim to be judged as compositions.
The author cannot, however, claim the credit of the first discovery that a fugue is written in ternary form.
That honour is due to Dr. Riemann, in his analysis of Bach's "Wohltemperirtes Clavier. Riemann for the idea, though he has developed it in a somewhat different way from that of the original discoverer.
Of the later chapters of the volume not much need be said here. As belonging to practical composition rather than to mere theoretical study, fugue is a subject which is best taught by examples. In the present volume it was impossible to give more than a very few complete fugues; but this will be followed as soon as possible by a companion volume on " Fugal Analysis ," the materials of which are already in great part collected, which will contain a selection of the finest fugues of the great masters in various styles and forms.
These will be all printed in open score like the two fugues by Bach in sections , , and fully annotated. It is hoped that they will be found a most valuable aid to the student. With the subject of fugue, the strictly theoretical part of this series is completed. The remaining volumes will deal with actual composition, and the next to follow after "Fugal Analysis" will be on " Form.
The requisite preliminary knowledge, 1 —Definition of the term Fugue, 2 —Double, triple, and accompanied fugues, 3 —The difference between Fugue and canon, 4—6 —General description of a fugue, 7 — The Subject , 8 — The Answer: real and tonal answers, 9 — The Countersubject , 10 — The Exposition , 11 — Episode , 12 — The Counter-exposition , 13 —The middle section of the fugue, 14 —The final section: Pedal points, 15 — The Stretto , 16 —Close fugue, 17 —Strict and free fugues, 18 —The Ricercare or Ricercata , 19 —Fugues by inversion, augmentation, or diminution, 20 —The Fughetta , 21 — Fugato , 22 —The essential nature of fugue, The essentials of a good subject, 24 —A Subject defined; fugues with two or more subjects, 25 —The necessity of clear tonality, 26 —Implied harmony, 27 —Subjects that remain in one key: major, 28—30 —Ditto, minor, 31 , 32 —Subjects in the dominant, 33 —Subjects that modulate from tonic to dominant, 34 —Ditto, in a minor key modulate to the dominant minor, 35 —Modulation from dominant to tonic, 36 —Ditto, from tonic to dominant and back, 37 —Modulation between tonic and subdominant, 38 —A subject in the subdominant, 39 —Incidental modulations, 40 , 41 —The cadence of a fugue subject, 42—45 —Length, 46 —Compass, 47 —A subject may begin on any degree of the scale, 48—49 —The subject must be contrapuntal in character, 50 —Adaptability for stretto , 51 —Melody and rhythm, 52 —How to determine the limits of a subject, 53 —Directions for work, Countersubject defined, —Must be in double counterpoint with subject, —Need of contrast, —Examples, , —Key of countersubject, —The inganno , —The material of the countersubject, —Often forms the basis of episodes, —Sometimes accompanies only a part of the subject, —Countersubject in tonal fugues, —Sometimes needs modification, —Must make correct two-part counterpoint with the answer, —Deferred appearance of countersubject, —A fugue with two countersubjects, —Two countersubjects used in succession, —A double fugue, —When a countersubject is unnecessary, —Directions for working, Episode defined, —Its use for modulation, —Difference between episode and codetta, —The material for episode: sequence, —Use of imitation, —Example of episodes developed from subject of fugue, , —Ditto from countersubject, , —Ditto from codetta, , —Various devices used in episodes; example by Handel, — —Episodes formed from entirely new material, , —One episode sometimes the inversion of another, —General principles; the importance of sequence, —Need of variety in each episode, —The freedom allowed to the composer, —The number of episodes variable, —Long and short episodes, —Fugues without episodes, —Examples to follow the expositions given in the last chapter, —Episodes for the three-part fugue, — —Ditto, for the four-part fugue, — —The chief essentials of good episodes; directions for work, The two methods of writing a fugue on a choral, —The subjects taken from the choral itself, —Example by Buxtehude analyzed, — —Example by Bach, , —The form of such fugues, —The entries of the canto fermo , —Modern examples, —The second kind of fugue on a choral, —Example from Bach's Motetts analyzed, —Modulations, —The choral introduced during the episodes, —Example by Mendelssohn, —Why the freer style was adopted, —The first line of a choral taken as the fugue subject; example, —The freedom allowed in this kind of work, Definition, —Accompanied exposition, , —Filling up thin harmony, —Variations of voice parts, , —Independent counterpoints, — —General principles, — —Importance of good models, —Our rules founded on the practice of the great masters, This work was published before January 1, , and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least years ago.