About this work
This fugue was probably written during Bach's years in Arnstadt, where he served as organist at the Neue Kirche. He had always shown interest in the works of the Italian masters and wrote a number of compositions based on their themes, including Fugue for organ in B minor (on a Theme of Corelli) (BWV 579), Fugue for keyboard in B minor (on a theme of Albinoni) (BWV 951), and this C minor effort for organ based on a theme by Giovanni Legrenzi (1626 - 1690). The work opens with Legrenzi's theme, a stately creation that Bach brilliantly developed during the course of the fugue. It begins with a sort of five-note motto that rises high on the keyboard, almost serving as a repeating fanfare on each of its appearances. Not surprisingly, Bach's contrapuntal writing is brilliant throughout and at the core of the work's success, inner voices emerge with crucial detail or blend deftly with the main line to forge some new thematic aspect. Near the end is a cadenza-like episode of great drama that leads to a brilliant, powerful close. This work typically has a duration of six or seven minutes.