Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537 (arr Hunsberger)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (scored by Donald Hunsberger)

This work bears the designation BWV 537.

General Info

Year: 1723? / 1997
Duration: c. 8:35
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Organ
Publisher: Alfred Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $125.00   |   Score Only (print) - $20.00


Full Score
Flute I-II-III-IV (IV doubling C Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Piccolo Trumpet
B-flat Trumpet I-II
B-flat Flugelhorn
Horn in F I-II-III
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This work, originally written for organ, was the initial offering in the DHWL. The organ and the contemporary wind band share numerous timbre and sound projection properties as well as sharing philosophy and technique in organ registrations and in wind orchestration. Hunsberger, whose instrumentation closely follows concepts of organ registration, has created unique timbres and tonal couplings in the wind and brass sections throughout.

- Program Note from publisher

Many compositions by J.S. Bach have been the source for wind orchestrations over the past century. The four-voice chorale settings, the chorale preludes, and especially the contrapuntal large-scale works for organ, have provided editors, transcribers and arrangers with a high level of musical inspiration as well as ample opportunity for the development of wind timbres and textures.

The Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537, is unique among Bach compositions in that little is known about its origin. According to F. K. Griepenkerl (in 1845), it was found in a book from the estate of J. L. Krebs, a famous pupil of Bach, in a very careful manuscript copy, with the inscription “Soli Deo Gloria den 10, Januarii, 1751.” This would indicate that it had been copied less than one half a year after Bach’s death.

- Program Note from University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble concert program, 22 November 2015

The Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537 is a piece for the organ written by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was composed during the composer's period of residence in Weimar.

During his life, Bach had two tenures in the small town of Weimar in present-day Germany. The town had a population of about 5000, but had a strong cultural tradition. He was hired in 1709 by Weimar's ruling duke, Wilhelm Ernst, as an organist and member of the court orchestra; he was particularly encouraged to make use of his unique talents with the organ. Indeed, during this time period he composed many of his greatest organ works, including the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, and the Prelude and Fugue in E Major, BWV 566. During his period in Weimar his fame as an organist grew, and he was visited by students of the organ to hear him play and to try to learn from his technique. His Fantasia and Fugue in C minor was composed in the latter part of his tenure in Weimar, but we are not sure as to in which year; many estimates also put the date of composition in 1723, when Bach was Kapellmeister in Köthen after falling foul of the political tensions that occurred in Weimar in 1717.

The combined length of the fantasia and the fugue is about eight minutes, and it is written in 6/4 time. The fantasia of the piece is quite lush and very ornate, consisting of two unequal halves that both feature the same two basic musical ideas, an imitative dotted-rhythm tune, and a leaping eighth-note form, which is also in imitation, initiated by the pedals. Unlike many of its contemporaries, it features no cadenza-like passage in which a performer could show off their virtuosity. The fugue uses a steady theme four times in a row that can be easily recognised each time that it reappears. The total length of the fugue is 130 contrapuntal bars.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


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State Ratings

  • Kansas: IV
  • Louisiana: V
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Symphony (Anthony C. Marinello, conductor) – 21 February 2024
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Wind Ensemble (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) - 18 October 2023
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Emily Rodeck, conductor) – 25 September 2018
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble (Kevin M. Geraldi, conductor) – 18 November 2017
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (John E. Williamson, conductor) – 17 October 2017
  • University of Texas Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 22 November 2015

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Bach, J.; Hunsberger, D. (1997). Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 537 [score]. Belwin-Mills: Miami, Fla.
  • Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537, Wikipedia
  • Hunsberger, Donald. "Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 537." WindWorks: A Journal of the Contemporary Wind Band Issue 1, Fall 1997, pp. 13-16.
  • Seggelke, Martin H. "Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 547." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 10, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 960-969. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2015.