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Dietrich Buxtehude

Toccata in D Minor

BuxWV. 155

About this work

This toccata in D minor works much like a praeludium in that there is an alternation of free passage work and imitative polyphony. Altogether there are three different imitative sections scattered in between segments of free rhapsodic passage work; however, it should be noted that the free passage work occurs more in this piece than imitative material. The first imitative portion of the toccata is fairly brief, and only eight measures long leading into a much more substantial imitative section. The third of the three imitative portions is yet longer. None of the three imitative portions of the toccata are thematically related as was so common in the praeludia of Buxtehude. The free rhapsodic portions of this toccata are quite wild and chaotic, making this work one of Buxtehude's most extreme examples of the stylus phantasticus, a style characterized by unpredictable improvisatory chaos. Also the free rhapsodic passages tend to pile upon one another in this piece. Rather than turning to imitative material after coming to a cadence at the end of each free toccata section, Buxtehude twice (once at the beginning, and again at the end) returns for more free toccata material.