Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (arr. Edward Elgar; trans. Topolewski)

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This work bears the designation BWV 537

General Info

Year: c. 1723 / 1921 / 2012
Duration: c. 8:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Organ
Publisher: Timothy Topolewski
Cost: Score and Parts - $150.00  |   Score Only - $25.00


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The foundation of J.S. Bach’s legacy is in his establishment of a harmonic and melodic style that is still being taught in colleges and universities. By giving each line its own beauty — through the interaction of melody, harmony, and rhythm — he transforms a simple melody into a majestic sonority of great passion and imagery. The Fantasia and Fugue was composed during his employment as organist and member of the court orchestra in Weimar, Germany. Some estimates put the date of its composition at 1723.

Elgar’s orchestral transcription of the Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor came about over a casual lunch with Richard Strauss, in 1920. During their meeting they discussed the orchestration of one of Bach’s works and chose BWV 537. They agreed that Elgar would score the Fugue and that Strauss would score the Fantasia. Elgar completed the Fugue in April of 1921. Hearing nothing from Strauss regarding the Fantasia, Elgar completed its scoring in June of 1922. Writing to a friend and organist, Ivor Atkins, Elgar stated, “I have orchestrated a Bach fugue in a modern way ... I wanted to show how gorgeous and great and brilliant he would have made himself sound if he had had our means.” The premier performance was given on October 27, 1921, in Queen’s Hall, London, conducted by Eugene Goossens. Topolewski’s setting offers the wind band the opportunity to experience Bach and Elgar at their finest.

- Program note by Virginia Wind Symphony concert program 21 December 2012

If music were architecture, Bach’s big organ works would be cathedrals. More than any of his other compositions, these works evoke the inescapable feeling that one is viewing a physical structure. Every part is linked together, so that the whole thing stands immensely upright. Yet there is the distinct feeling that every single line must be there -- if something were missing, the structure would fall apart. If this Fantasia and Fugue were physical architecture, it might be the country estate of a gentleman. It would be a place where enjoyment and pageantry were as important as nobility and seriousness of purpose, where elegance and wealth stood side by side with the natural beauty of the forest.

Edward Elgar’s stately march Land of Hope and Glory from the Pomp and Circumstance marches is often played at graduation ceremonies and could possibly be the most recognizable bit of classical music from England other than the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Elgar brings his unique stylistic approach to this transcription, which displays very much the same orchestral sound as many of his major works. However, the source of the music remains unmistakable: Bach, whose genius was perhaps the most influential in Western music.

- Program Note by Richard Floyd for the 2015 Texas All-State Concert Band


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Terry Austin, conductor) - 11 June 2022
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Dennis Glocke, conductor) – 5 March 2020
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Dennis Glocke, conductor) – 18 February 2020 (Carnegie Hall, New York)
  • Savannah (Ga.) Wind Symphony (Mark Johnson, conductor) – 5 March 2019
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 16 November 2018
  • University of Colorado Boulder Wind Symphony (Brittan Braddock, conductor) – 20 September 2018
  • TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) All-State Concert Band (Gary Lewis, conductor) - 14 February 2015 (2015 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • Virginia Wind Symphony (Hampton Roads) (Dennis J. Ziesler, conductor) – 21 December 2012 (2012 Midwest Clinic)

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