Prelude & Fugue

Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude & Fugue in G major

BWV550

About this work

This Prelude and Fugue was probably written during the latter part of Bach's tenure in Arnstadt (1703-1707), where he served as organist at the Neue Kirche. Thus, it is an early work and while it may not be a major achievement, it still exhibits the composer's craftsmanship in contrapuntal writing and structure. The piece opens with a joyous, lively theme that centers largely on a four-note pattern that is often mirrored in the harmonies of the left hand, giving the Prelude plentiful contrapuntal, if not fugal properties of its own. The music here works up a quite glorious and triumphant sense, making the listener wonder just what Bach might have in store for the listener in the fugue. The fugue colorfully opens, rising from subdued middle- and lower-range sonorities where the four-note motif is drastically altered and then turns rhythmic and agitated, but also exhibits a joyous manner in its graceful drive and breathless energy. The music seems to be building toward some grand climactic moment throughout the entire fugue, but only revels in its increasingly glorious rhythmic drive. The piece ends modestly triumphant after it briefly ascends to the highest ranges. This colorful work typically has a duration of six or seven minutes.

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