J.S. Bach: Little Fugue in G Minor


Edith Hanselman, organist and music director or Strathroy United Church, performs J. S. Bach's famous Little Fugue in G Minor to conclude the Going Through the Gates Sunday service on June 15, 2008. Little Fugue in G minor, BWV 578 is a piece of organ music written by Johann Sebastian Bach sometime around his years at Arnstadt (1703-1707). It is often confused that the Little fugue in G minor is Little in importance and duration, but the fact is Bach titled the piece Little to avoid confusion between this piece, and the later "Great" Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, which is longer in duration. The fugue's four-and-a-half measure subject is one of Bach's most recognizable tunes. The fugue is in four voices. During the episodes, Bach uses one of Arcangelo Corelli's most famous techniques: imitation between two voices on an eighth note upbeat figure that first leaps up a fourth and then falls back down one step at a time. This piece is mathematical and precise. Johann Sebastian Bach (pronounced [joˈhan/ˈjoːhan zeˈbastjan ˈbax]) (March 21, 1685 O.S. -- July 28, 1750 N.S.) was a German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity. Although he introduced no new forms, he enriched the prevailing German style with a robust contrapuntal technique, an unrivalled control of harmonic and motivic organisation in composition for diverse musical forces, and the adaptation of rhythms and textures from abroad, particularly Italy and France. Revered for their intellectual depth and technical and artistic beauty, Bach's works include the Brandenburg concertos; the Goldberg Variations; the English Suites, French Suites, Partitas, and Well-Tempered Clavier; the Mass in B Minor; the St. Matthew Passion; the St. John Passion; The Musical Offering; The Art of Fugue; the Sonatas and Partitas for violin solo; the Cello Suites; more than 200 surviving cantatas; and a similar number of organ works, including the celebrated Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. While Bach's fame as an organist was great during his lifetime, he was not particularly well-known as a composer. His adherence to Baroque forms and contrapuntal style was considered "old-fashioned" by his contemporaries, especially late in his career when the musical fashion tended towards Rococo and later Classical styles. A revival of interest and performances of his music began early in the 19th century, and he is now widely considered to be one of the greatest composers in the Western tradition.

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