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Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (tr. Falcone)


This work bears the designation BWV 582.


General Info

Year: ca. 1712 / 1969
Duration: c. 13:25
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium:' Harpsichord
Publisher: Southern Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $230.00   |   Score Only (print) - $40.00


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute III
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Cornets I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
Tuba
Timpani
Bass Drum


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Though one of the great organ classics, the Passacaglia in C minor was first composed for the double-manual harpsichord. Despite the fact that the key of C minor is constantly present throughout all 20 variations and much of the fugue, Bach maintains a freshness in each variation which distinguishes it from the next. Albert Schweitzer advised that "Each of the twenty sections ... must have its own characteristic tone colour (but) ... no colour must be sharply differentiated from its predecessor or its successor."

The work opens with a stately eight-bar theme followed by the 20 variations and an overwhelming tutti. The double fugue is built on the first part of the passacaglia theme in combination with a countertheme in eighth notes. The work closes with a massive climax of suspended harmonies and full instrumental sonority.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band


From 1708 to 1717, J. S. Bach served as a member of the court orchestra and organist to the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst in Weimar, Germany. As organist to the Court, Bach wrote profusely for organ during these years. Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor was composed during this period, most likely between 1708 and 1712. While the original manuscript to Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor' is lost, one extant score includes the annotation cembalo ossia organo indicating that Bach may have intended the work for either pedal harpsichord or organ. A surviving manuscript of the first forty-nine measures of the Passacaglia once owned by Bach’s son C.P.E. Bach includes heavy ornamentation that is common in much of the harpsichord music of the time. Today, the work is most commonly performed on organ.

A passacaglia is a musical form usually set in triple meter in which a simple eight-bar melody called an ostinato or ground bass is repeated throughout the work while a series of continuous variations are layered over it. The C–minor Passacaglia consists of a set of twenty variations. The fugue follows immediately and without pause, the ground bass from the passacaglia now serving as the subject for the fugue.

'Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor is considered by historians and critics to be one of Bach’s greatest keyboard compositions. Composer Robert Schumann once described the variations in the Passacaglia as “intertwined so ingeniously that one can never cease to be amazed.”

The work has been orchestrated numerous times, including by composer Ottorino Respighi and conductor Leopold Stokowski. Stokowski’s 1922 orchestration of the Passacaglia and Fugue for the Philadelphia Orchestra is arguably the most famous transcription of the work. The wind band transcription is scored by Nicholas D. Falcone, Director of Bands at the University of Michigan from 1926 to 1935.

- Program Note from Crane Concert Band concert program, 5 October 2016


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: VI
  • Indiana: ISSMA SENIOR BAND GROUP I
  • Louisiana: V
  • Michigan: Senior High AA
  • Minnesota: I
  • North Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: VI


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.) Band (Peter Haberman, conductor) – 19 November 2017
  • Texas Christian University (Fort Worth) Wind Symphony (Bobby R. Francis, conductor) – 6 December 2016
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Concert Band (James T. Madeja, conductor) – 5 October 2016
  • The Heart of Texas (San Antonio) Concert Band (Mark Rogers conductor) – 2015


Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources

  • Bach, J.; Falcone, N. [1969]. Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor [score]. Southern Music Co.: San Antonio, Tex.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 25.