Präludium und Fuge d-Moll

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (trans. Mordechai Rechtman)

This work is known in English as Prelude and Fugue in D minor, BWV 539.

General Info

Year: 1722 / 2003
Duration: c. 8:40
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Organ
Publisher: Accolade Musikverlag
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - €40.00


1. Prelude – 2:35
2. Fugue – 6:05


Full Score
Flute I-II-III (III doubling Piccolo)
Oboe I-II-III (III doubling English Horn)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Bassoon I-II-III (III doubling Contrabassoon)
C Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Bach was very keen on the duo of prelude (or toccata) and fugue. In the first part, he could let his imagination run free, then show off his technical composition prowess in the second part. However, not all the prelude and fugue duos that have been given a BWV number are indisputably by Bach himself. The origins of the Prelude and fugue in D minor are dubious to say the least.

What is certain, however, is that the fugue is based on the second movement of Bach’s Sonata for violin solo, BWV 1001, from 1720. But that does not necessarily mean that the composer was also responsible for this arrangement. Various researchers have emphasized that the original piece for violin was a novelty that stretched the limits of the instrument with a great display of virtuosity. According to some people, the arrangement is actually no more than a dutiful rendition of the original. It is not like Bach to deliver something like that, although it may have been written by one of his pupils. In the interview, organist Reitze Smits explains that he is of a totally different opinion. He thinks it is only in the organ version that Bach has achieved his true intentions with regard to the piece.

There are yet more problems attached to the preceding two-voice prelude. Because what is this relatively short and simple prelude doing here actually? Would not Bach himself have been far more likely to choose an arrangement of the first movement of the same solo sonata -- always supposing that he was responsible for the keyboard fugue? Moreover, the provenance of the prelude is completely obscure, as the piece only surfaced in the early nineteenth century, when it was added to the fugue. Of course, there are other opinions as well; for example that the daringly unpretentious prelude is a marvel of elegance. Or that the incredibly difficult suggested polyphony for the violin finds its true niche on the organ.

It shows how difficult it is, even for musicologists who have spent their whole life with Bach, to put your finger on precisely what defines his mastery.

- Program Note from All of Bach


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Dennis Glocke, conductor) – 13 November 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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