Toccata & Fugue

Johann Sebastian Bach

Toccata & Fugue in A minor


About this work

Like the more famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor, this work is thought not to be by Bach, or at least not for organ, the material seeming better suited to the violin. The fantasia opens with a dark, burbling little figure that soon becomes a brighter, jagged theme presented as a single line (as if played by unaccompanied violin), gradually picking up a broad, chordal accompaniment as the melodic figurations become more complex. This flows straight into the three-voice fugue, the melody built from falling two-note units that Bach stacks one after the other to give the impression of ascent, before veering off into more noodling material. The structure is rather open by fugal standards, further suggesting that this was originally a violin showpiece. Midway through the fugue, the music descends into material reminiscent of the beginning of the fantasia, then settles into a stately chordal sequence, followed by more of the burbling material and its toccata-like elaboration. Effectively, the fugue has been interrupted by a return of the fantasia, which concludes the work in a combination of downward-rushing cascades of notes and sonorous chords.