Toccata and Fugue in D minor (tr Hunsberger)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (trans. Donald Hunsberger)

This work bears the designation BWV 565.

General Info

Year: 1705 / 1998
Duration: c. 10:10
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Organ
Publisher: Alfred Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $200.00   |   Score Only (print) - $50.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Alto Flute (doubling C Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
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 I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II (2 players), including:

  • Marimba (optional)
  • Vibraphone (optional)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is one of the greatest of the masterpieces that Bach wrote for the organ. A brilliant slow/fast introduction is followed by the fugue, the subject of which is a short figure in sixteenth notes. From the free and showy style of the toccata and the huge climax at the end, it is evident that the work was conceived as a virtuoso concert piece rather than a work for a church service.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Bach’s most popular organ work was supposedly composed shortly after his arrival at Weimar in 1708, when he already had earned a reputation as an organist. It belongs to Bach’s early composition exercises, as he was still assimilating his predecessor’s styles. This toccata and fugue not only illustrates Bach’s exceptional composition technique, but also the extensive possibilities of the organ. The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, originally written for organ, has since been arranged for virtually every musical performance medium from symphony orchestra to jazz band. Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Lucien Cailliet, and Sir Henry Wood all have made their own arrangements for orchestra, and no less than seven arrangers have created transcriptions for band. John Philip Sousa, Erik Leidzen, Denis Wright, and Hans Felix Husadel, among others, have provided band arrangements of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 (c. 1708) is a two-part musical composition for organ, probably written before 1708. It is known for its majestic sound, dramatic authority, and driving rhythm. This piece is perhaps most widely known by its appearance in the opening minutes of the 1940 Disney classic Fantasia, in which it was adapted for orchestra by the conductor, Leopold Stokowski. It also has a strong association in Western culture with horror films.

The first part of this work is a toccata, the name of which is derived from the Italian toccare, meaning “to touch.” It represents a musical form for keyboard instruments that is designed to reveal the virtuosity of the performer. Bach’s approach to the toccata is typical in that it has many fast, arpeggiated sections (notes of a chord played in a series rather than simultaneously) and scalar passages up and down the keyboard. Otherwise, it is generally free form and gives the composer much latitude for personal expression. During this time period, toccatas often served as introductions for fugues, setting the stage for the complex and intricate composition to follow.

The fugue -- a technique characterized by the overlapping repetition of a principal theme in different melodic lines (counterpoint) -- is the second part of this composition. It reflects the particular popularity of the form during the late 1600s and early 1700s. Bach utilized the fugue in many of his compositions but most famously in solo organ pieces, instrumental works, and choral cantatas. This particular work is not only the best known of Bach’s fugues, but also the most famous of any composer.

In this particular transcription, Donald Hunsberger's unique scoring takes advantage of the many timbral possibilities inherent in the full wind band of today.

- Program Note from Encyclopedia Brittanica

The many great organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach have been transcribed for countless instrumental ensembles in the two and a half centuries since his death. The legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski brought this practice to perhaps its zenith with his many powerful adaptations of Bach’s keyboard work for full symphony orchestra. The most famous of these is his transcription of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which was featured in the classic 1940 Disney film Fantasia and has since become ubiquitous in both the classical repertoire and in many different streams of popular culture worldwide.

Many people will be familiar with this work’s three dramatic opening flourishes followed by the low, growling pedal note underneath a huge, fortissimo rolling chord. The Toccata is rhapsodic, like an improvisation, a feature which is relatively unusual for an organ work of its time. It has been suggested that Bach’s celebrated piece was not originally written for the organ, nor even in D minor. It might have been written for violin or harpsichord, and some scholars believe it to be too crude a piece to have been written by Bach at all. The earliest score, a copy made by Bach’s student Johann Ringk (1717-1778), contains many uncharacteristic dynamics and markings. Unfortunately, no original manuscript survives.

According to arranger Donald Hunsberger:

The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor contains virtuosic writing combined with a recitative style. Within the Toccata itself there resides a freedom of tempo and technical display that is in great contrast to the formation of the various fugal statements and answers. The third part of the Toccata serves as a coda-like statement containing a recitative and various changes of texture and tempo, finally arriving at a molto adagio that closes the section to create a grand A-B-A form for the work.

The Fugue draws its theme from the downward motion of the opening Toccata melodic line. It proceeds through numerous variations until finally arriving back at the free toccata-fantasia style.

In scoring the work for winds, Hunsberger chose an instrumentation that uses the ensemble’s complete range, from the vibrant bass color of the contrabassoon and contrabass clarinet to the shimmer of the piccolo and piccolo trumpet. This brilliant orchestration fully exploits the technical potential of the wind ensemble while effectively imitating the timbre, registration, and articulation of the organ.

- Program Note from Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert program, 9 June 2019


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Luke Camarillo, conductor) - 26 February 2024
  • Northshore Concert Band (Evanston, Ill.) (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 29 October 2023
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor) – 21 February 2020
  • Temple University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Wind Symphony (Patricia Cornett, conductor) – 22 November 2019
  • Royal Canadian Air Force Band (Winnipeg, Man.) (Matthew Clark, conductor) – 8 November 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Orchestra (Andrew Trachsel, conductor) – 31 October 2019
  • Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea, Ohio) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Dwight Oltman, conductor) – 4 October 2019
  • San Francisco Wind Symphony (Martin H. Seggelke, conductor) – 28 September 2019
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 9 June 2019
  • Western Reserve Community Band (Hudson, Ohio) (Ed Wiles, conductor) – 16 March 2019
  • Temple University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Wind Symphony (Patricia Cornett, conductor) – 20 February 2019
  • Northshore Concert Band (Evanston, Ill.) (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 10 February 2019
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor) – 30 January 2019
  • Gold Coast Wind Ensemble (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) (Michael Doty, conductor) – 21 October 2018
  • University of Vermont (Burlington) Wind Ensemble (Chris Rivers, conductor) – 15 April 2018
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Wind Ensemble (Christopher Hughes, conductor) – 7 March 2018
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Stephen Bolstad, conductor) – 24 February 2018
  • University of California, Los Angeles, Wind Ensemble (Travis J. Cross, conductor) – 9 November 2016
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Symphony (Stephen G. Peterson, conductor) – 30 October 2016
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor) – 6 October 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Bach, J.; Hunsberger, D. (1998). Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565 [score]. Belwin-Mills: Miami, Fla.
  • Hunsberger, Donald. "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565." WindWorks: A Journal for the Contemporary Wind Band Issue 2, Fall 1998, pp. 22.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 743-753.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 25
  • Perusal score
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. Wikipedia. Accessed 29 July 2023