Fantasia & Imitatio

Johann Sebastian Bach

Fantasia & Imitatio in B minor


About this work

This work probably dates to Bach's years in Arnstadt, where he served as organist at the Neue Kirche from 1703 to 1707. During this time, and throughout the Weimar period that followed (1708 - 1717), Bach wrote a substantial number of organ works, most of which divulged his routine, if still evolving mastery of keyboard writing. This work, often listed as Fantasia con imitatione in B minor, is a relatively light piece, but brims with ideas and has a deft sense for color. It opens with a stately, moderately paced theme in the soprano range, underpinned by imaginative contrapuntal accompaniment in the upper middle ranges that at times comes to the fore, only to yield back the main line to the right hand. Near the middle of the work, the flow of the music is disrupted, as the music seems to grapple for a continuation, eventually settling on a lively, bright theme with which to close out the work. Bach's contrapuntal writing throughout exhibits his usual subtlety, though in the end, the work is perhaps only a minor masterpiece. Typically, this piece lasts four minutes.