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Thread: Where are the fugues?

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    Question Where are the fugues?

    Hi Everyone! I am brand-new to this forum. Amateur pianist and composer for a long time, part-time music teacher, full time software engineer. Also into close-up magic and swing and salsa dancing.

    I play the "Magnificat" fugues by Pachelbel, four fugues by Handel (are there more?), two by Domenico Scarlatti (including the "Cat Fugue") and one by Alessandro Scarlatti, one by Beethoven (in the A-flat sonata) and some of the Bach fugues, and I recently found a book of twenty short fugues by Telemann.

    What other baroque or classical keyboard fugues exist?

    I ask because I love fugues and am teaching myself to write them (five so far) and would like more styles and examples to play and study.

    Thanks everyone!

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    Senior Member SuperTonic's Avatar
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    JS Bach's Art of Fugue (BWV 1080). This is essential studying for anyone who wants to learn about fugues. They were not written specifically for a keyboard instrument (no instrumentation is indicated in the original manuscript if I recall correctly), but there are likely keyboard transcriptions of them.

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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    My favorite fugue is actually a choral piece, the Amen chorus from Handel's Messiah.
    "My brothers, there's not a sinner in the world to whom the way of redemption is closed!"
    --Minne in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West.

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    Thank you very much.

    I am wondering why 80% of the keyboard fugues I know about were written either by Bach or Pachelbel. (Bach 62, Pachelbel 120, everyone else combined: less than 40). The fugue is such a famous style or form. Where are the rest of them?

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Fugues often exist within another piece of music for example various instrumental works (often in passacaglias and chaconnes) choral pieces, symphonies or string quartets etc. as I'm sure you know they are not just stand alone keyboard works. I know it is not the answer you are looking for here but if I was wanting to study keyboard fugues specifically I would look into Bach's Well Tempered Clavier. There are 48 keyboard fugues right there of the highest quality.
    Last edited by tdc; Feb-13-2018 at 06:25.

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    All true, especially the part about "highest quality". Thank you.

    Maybe most succeeding composers were just too intimidated by the Bach fugues to consider writing more of them!

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    I just found out about a set of 20 fugues written by Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer - which will hopefully be included in a book I just ordered. His lifetime (1656 - 1746) is contemporaneous with that of J.S. Bach (1665 - 1750). I have previously studied Fischer and hope to find this new material to be valuable.

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    I agree that Bach's Art of Fugue and Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 & 2 are essential. IMO, harpsichordist Christian Rieger understands fugues better than most. At least his playing of Bach fugues has added to my understanding of what a fugue is. I've also liked harpsichordists Gustav Leonhardt and Bob van Asperen in Bach fugues, as well as pianist Ivo Janssen.

    https://www.allmusic.com/album/js-ba...e-mw0001429127
    http://www.biberfan.org/reviews/2011...ristian-rieger
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7y0mXwkqr0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRs75gKIHnk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOcYpewRMkI


    What I love most about Bach fugues is how multi-directional they are--at times musical lines can seem to come out of nowhere, and they shouldn't work within the whole, but they do, they fit brilliantly & organically with everything else. There are moments like that in Bach's Art of Fugue that I treasure.

    One of most mind blowing fugal movements in all of Bach is the opening to his "Michaelmas" Cantata BWV 19. I'd suggest you turn the volume up for this movement to get the full effect:



    Like many composers, Beethoven had a strong interest in Bach fugues. Not only did he play the Well Tempered Clavier in his youth, but Bach's Preludes & fugues were very influential on his late piano sonatas and string quartets (& appear in Beethoven's sketchbooks). For example, the difficult fugal movement in Beethoven's Hammerklavier Piano Sonata, Op. 106 (which can end up becoming a mess on modern grands, but works better on period pianos):



    And of course the single movement "Grosse fuge", Op. 133--a double fugue, which Beethoven discarded from his late String Quartet No. 13, Op. 130:



    Among others that come to mind, I'd suggest getting to know the following:

    Robert Schumann's fugues, such as his Six Fugues on Bach, Op. 60 and Four Fugues, Op, 72 (as Schumann was very influenced by Bach):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJAhqxKSlpc
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjeZLP-E2h0

    Max Reger's Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqoOWQsPCY8

    And finally, Dmitri Shostakovich's 48 Preludes and fugues for solo piano, Op. 87 (modeled after you know who):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyURjdnYQaU

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Feb-14-2018 at 19:54.

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    Senior Member Ras's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martonic View Post
    Hi Everyone .... four fugues by Handel (are there more?),....
    I assume Handel's 8 keyboard suites have fugues in them?? On piano I like Lisa Smirnova from the ECM label (in case you are looking for recordings.
    41ppg2LkLGL._SS500.jpg

    I'm not a musician, but these are fugues I have come across that may interest you if you are not already familiar with them:

    You would probably win some sort of award if you can find a work by JS Bach that is NOT fugal!

    Mozart composed a fugue for piano in C major - it's KV 394 (383a) from 1782. I have it in a box from Bis with R. Brautigam playing a period instrument:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mozart-Comp...igam+mozart+cd
    It must be on Spotify too because they have most of Bis' catalog.

    Mozart arranged some Bach fugues for string quartet - a genre that hadn't been invented in Bach's time.

    Mozart dazzles all the scholars with the fugal parts of his last symphony - "Jupiter" (nr. 41).

    One of JS Bach's longest fugue is from the 3rd sonata for solo violin BWV1005 in C major. - about ten minutes long.

    Welcome on board martonic - I am also newish here...
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    Thank you for a terrific detailed reply and for the links! I was not aware of those Schumann pieces, will check them out!

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    Thank you for your reply! I play Handel's fugues in B minor, B flat major, C minor and G major. I have played through most of his suites, enjoyed them for many hours through the years, but never found any fugues there.

    Bach is surely the supreme "contrapuntalist" of the known universe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by martonic View Post
    Thank you for your reply! I play Handel's fugues in B minor, B flat major, C minor and G major. I have played through most of his suites, enjoyed them for many hours through the years, but never found any fugues there.
    Without looking at scores of the Handel Suites, my recording of all 8 suites have several fugues listed for certain movements

    No. 2: last movement
    No. 3: second movement
    No. 4: first movement
    No. 6: second movement after a Largo section
    No. 8: second movement
    Last edited by Vasks; Feb-15-2018 at 01:46.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    Without looking at scores of the Handel Suites, my recording of all 8 suites have several fugues listed for certain movements

    No. 2: last movement
    No. 3: second movement
    No. 4: first movement
    No. 6: second movement after a Largo section
    No. 8: second movement
    Hi - thank you very much! Can you provide the key signatures? My edition may not agree on the numbering. Looking again just now, I did find a fugue (4th movement) in an F-major suite but in my edition it is labeled simply "Allegro". It is a very nice composition! I will look through the book again "with new eyes" and see what else I can spot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by martonic View Post
    Can you provide the key signatures?
    Suite #2 in F major
    Suite #3 in D minor
    Suite #4 in E minor
    Suite #6 in F# major
    Suite #8 in F minor

    Here's all the scores. Yes, are not labeled "Fugues" but my CD says they are

    https://imslp.nl/imglnks/usimg/1/1b/...luer_1720).pdf
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Great, I found all of them. My (Dover) edition does not include the same numbering. The suite in F# is in F# minor. For some reason I did not get into that suite yet but I have played each of the other cited movements numerous times. Of course they are fugues, although my edition labels each of them simply "Allegro". Thank you very much for pointing these out.

    The fugal first movement ("Allegro") in E minor is a masterpiece and I like to play it as a conclusion to Handel's other E minor suite (of which there are two AFAIK).

    I have been playing these for years without stopping to label them as fugues, although I certainly understood them as such.

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