Prelude and Fugue in E-flat (trans Hunsberger)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (scored by Donald Hunsberger)

Subtitle: St. Anne

This work bears the designation BWV 552.

General Info

Year: c. 1739 / 2009
Duration: c. 14:50
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Organ
Publisher: Alfred Publishing
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $250.00   |   Score Only (print) - $75.00


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


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Dedicated to Toru Miura and the Kunitachi College of Music Wind Orchestra.

- Program Note from score

The Clavier-Übung III, sometimes referred to as the German Organ Mass, is a collection of compositions for organ by Johann Sebastian Bach, started in 1735–36 and published in 1739. It is considered Bach's most significant and extensive work for organ, containing some of his most musically complex and technically demanding compositions for that instrument.

The fugue in E♭ major BWV 552/2 that ends Clavier-Übung III has become known in English-speaking countries as the "St. Anne" because of the first subject's resemblance to a hymn tune of the same name by William Croft, a tune that was not likely known to Bach. A fugue in three sections of 36 bars, 45 bars and 36 bars, with each section a separate fugue on a different subject, it has been called a triple fugue. However, the second subject is not stated precisely within the third section, but only strongly suggested.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Though frequently performed as a pair, Johann Sebastian Bach's monumental Prelude and Fugue in E-flat actually appear as the first and last pieces in the third volume of his Clavier-Übung, bookending some 25 other works for organ. Taken together, this 1739 collection reflects the liturgical structure of the mass - hence the volume's nickname, "German Organ Mass." Bach was not just a legendary organist and composer. He was also a great Lutheran theologian. As is frequently the case in the music of Bach, what the listener hears is only part of the story. In this case, the prelude and fugue are expressions and explorations of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God in three persons. The prelude, in seven sections, presents three themes. The opening theme, which returns two more times, is marked by dotted rhythms (long-short patterns) characteristic of the regal French overture, calling to mind the majestic character of God the Father. The second theme, which is heard twice, is set off by "echo" effects: here, a statement in the brass repeated more softly in the woodwinds, suggesting God the Son, the incarnation who bears the imprint of the Father. The Holy Spirit sounds through long-winded running 16th-note passages, perhaps representing the continuing work of God through the Spirit throughout the world.

The fugue, which earned the work's sobriquet "St. Anne," is also in three parts, paralleling the three persons of the Trinity. The tune of the opening fugue subject bears a close resemblance to the English hymnist William Croft's 1708 tune "St. Anne," which is the usual setting for the hymn, "0 God, Our Help in Ages Past." Though it is uncertain whether Bach had ever heard the hymn (or knew the words), the opening seven tones do bear a remarkable likeness to Croft's sturdy tune. The long, comparatively slow motion of the first section of the fugue reflect something of the eternal nature of the Father, while the faster, flowing lines of the second part suggest the activity of the Son who has entered and lived in the temporal world. Finally, the Holy Spirit is characterized by dancing, descending figures that look on the page almost like tongues of fire.

We might make the argument that the baroque organ was, in fact, the first large wind ensemble. Though Bach's organ music in its original form pushes the organist's keyboard technique to the limit, for the listener, its glory is in its spectrum of wind-driven color and power. Donald Hunsberger's classic setting of this work exploits the range of musical possibilities inherent in the modern wind band, and is every bit as demanding for the ensemble musicians as for the individual organist. Would Bach have set his Prelude and Fugue in E-flat for modern winds if he had had the chance? We'd like to think that he would.

- Program Note from Whitworth University Wind Symphony concert program, 17 March 2022


State Ratings

  • Florida: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • North Carolina: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Maryland (College Park) Wind Orchestra (Michael Votta, conductor) - 7 May 2023
  • Whitworth University (Spokane, Wash.) Wind Symphony (Richard Strauch, conductor) – 17 March 2022 (CBDNA 2022 Western/Northwestern Conference, Tacoma, Wash.)
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble (Kevin M. Geraldi, conductor) – 25 April 2019
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor) – 18 February 2019

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Bach, J.; Hunsberger, D. (2009). Prelude and fugue in E-flat : BWV 552 St. Anne [score]. Alfred Publishing: [Van Nuys, Calif.].
  • Clavier-Übung III, Wikipedia Accessed 16 February 2019