Prelude & Fugue

Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude & Fugue in A minor


About this work

J.S. Bach's Prelude and Fugue in A minor for organ, BWV 543 (an alternate version is numbered BWV 543a) is probably a product of his years as court organist to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar (1708-1717). It is the final incarnation of music first tried out by Bach in the harpsichord Fugue in A minor, BWV 944, of 1708 or earlier. Not as famous as some other Bach organ works, it is the equal of the best of them. The prelude is a massive, dramatic thing with a weighty, chromatically descending subject, made all the weightier when it is thrust into the pedals midway through the piece. A master organist can shape this into one of the most compelling of all Bach's fugue introductions. At the end of the fugue itself there is an electrifying passage of freewheeling, utterly unfugal organ virtuosity. Some observers contend that the chromatic, toccata-like prelude bears the marks of Bach's early, north German-influenced style, while the fugue could be a later product of his maturity. It was not uncommon for Bach to adapt or join together previously composed music to form new pieces.