Max Derrickson

Writing Music Program Notes for Over 20 Years

Tag: Bach

Contrapunctus IX, “alla duodecima,” from The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080

The Art of the Fugue may well be Bach’s seminal work and contains 14 fugues and four canons, all in D-minor, and arranged in increasing difficulty. … Instead of calling them “counterpoint(s),” Bach preferred the Latin word “Contrapunctus.” Number IX (9) is a study of turning that simple subject into a new derivation and into a double fugue (two themes treated as a fugue at the interval of a twelfth, thus the subtitle “alla duodecima”)…

Prelude and fugue in G Major, BWV 541

In 1708, the 23-year old Bach was already well known as an extraordinary organist, as well as an organ tester, and at that point he began a seven-year post as the organist at the ducal court in Weimar. Bach was also a bit of a fire-brand and enjoyed showing off. This great Prelude and Fugue was most likely written in that year, and was meant not only to show off Bach’s virtuosic talents but also, most likely, to “test the lungs” of the Weimar court’s organ. The Prelude and Fugue in G Major is a motorific powerhouse of a piece…