Contrapunctus V

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (arr. Larry Daehn)

Subtitle: From The Art of the Fugue

General Info

Year: 2013
Duration: c. 4:00
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Daehn Publications, through C.L. Barnhouse
Cost: Score and Parts - $76.00   |   Score Only - $6.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass


In Score and Parts:

  • Bass Clarinet, m.90: Written D should be E.
  • Horn I, m.74: First four notes should be E, D, C#, E, not E, D, C#, D.

Program Notes

This is one of the most famous fugues from Bach's final magnum opus. The beautiful theme first appears in the four voices of a woodwind quartet of flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, then draws upon all the instrumental colors to build an even more dramatic and powerful mosaic.

- Program Note from publisher

Die Kunst der Fugue — BWV 1080 (The Art of the Fugue) is an unsurpassed, unique product of ingenuity. It contains fourteen fugues and four canons containing every type of counterpoint on a principal subject in D minor or its inversion. The work as a whole lay unfinished, either done deliberately by Bach, or due to his death while composing Contrapuuctus XIV.

Contrapunctus V begins with a modification of the inverted form of the theme that is answered by its inversion. These two forms of the theme occur, in various keys, throughout the figure. Contrapunctus V is one of Bach’s stretto fugues. The Italian word stretto means “narrow,” “tight,” or “close.” In a fugue, it means the close succession of statements of the subject. The subject is presented in one voice and then imitated in one or more other voices, with the imitation starting before the subject has finished. The subject is therefore superimposed upon itself contrapunctally.

The most striking examples of the stretto, however, are the a-tempo sections, where the themes note values are halved, and the imitations occur rapidly, with only half-count separations. These places create the most excitement in the piece.

Regarding the tempo changes and fermatas, I modeled this arrangement after a performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass on their recording, Bach: The Art of Fugue (Four Winds Entertainment FW 3008).

- Program Note by Larry Daehn

Drawn from The Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge) by the German Baroque master Johann Sebastian Bach (1865-1750), this work is scored in cut-time meter marked “Moderato” in D minor. Composed in the last decade of Bach’s life, this stretto fugue begins with a four-bar subject that is answered by its inversion. These two forms of the subject occur frequently in various keys throughout the fugue.

- Program Note from The Instrumentalist, May 2014


State Ratings

  • Texas: IV. Complete


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