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Thread: Who was the author of Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565?

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    Senior Member JSBach85's Avatar
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    Default Who was the author of Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565?

    Some musicologists state that Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 has stylistic elements that are problematic for the period in which it was supposedly written, and still others appear not to take the authorship question seriously. Was Johann Sebastian Bach the author of this work or maybe the author was another german organist within same period?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    There is such variety in Bach's organ works. What is it about this one that makes people skeptical?

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Hmmm... If it wasn't Bach, then who was it? I don't know of any candidates.

    It's like Haydn's Op. 3 quartets, often attributed to Romanus Hoffstetter. I checked out some of Hoffstetter's other works and...sorry. He couldn't have written these. Haydn it is, so far as I'm concerned.


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    The Toccata does seem to hop from theme to theme, of which it contains three - perhaps four - in a piece of little over two minutes' length. The themes themselves don't strike me as particularly cohesive, as if they were assembled from the cutting room floor, and the composer doesn't seem to "explore" them too much before moving on to the next section. In Bach's other organ toccatas (e.g. BWV538, BWV540, BWV564,BWV566), there is comparatively less thematic material, but the music coheres better IMHO, and Bach explores/develops his material more thoroughly.

    Don't get me wrong - I think BWV565 is a fine piece, and it might well be by Bach. If it is, then it's not quite as polished as his other organ Toccatas to my ears.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    There is such variety in Bach's organ works. What is it about this one that makes people skeptical?
    Features like those Reichstag notes ^ ^ ^ are cited, along with the counterpoint in the fugue, which has more motion in parallel thirds and sixths than is normal for Bach. Modern statistical analysis (21st c.) also shows it as stylistically atypical for Bach, but, as Ken suggests, no better candidates have been found. Some have suggested the work is a very early one (ca 1705) and that these features might reflect the composer's youth.

    The only surviving contemporary manuscript source was a copy made by Johannes Ringk, a student of a student of Bach. (He copied a manuscript his teacher had made, presumably copied from Bach's original. This seems like a pretty good line of provenance and suggests to me the work is authentic.) Ringk's surviving copy was likely made around 1735 when Ringk was a teen. The work wasn't published until 1833. Wikipedia has a discussion of all of these issues.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Aug-26-2018 at 17:31.

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    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    There is such variety in Bach's organ works. What is it about this one that makes people skeptical?
    I remember Glenn Gould saying that the Chromatic fantasy and The Toccata and fugue in D minor were Bach for people who don't like Bach, probably because instead of the very rigorous and even austere style he's associated with, those two pieces have a very different character. For instance the Toccata and Fugue is a piece that is appreciated a lot by the so called neoclassical metal shredders, who are usually into over the top stuff. It's also "scary music" if I could put it this way. So maybe that's what make some people have doubts about the autorship of the piece.
    Last edited by norman bates; Aug-26-2018 at 18:19.
    What time is the next swan?

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    The work wasn't published until 1833. Wikipedia has a discussion of all of these issues.
    Yet another work rescued from oblivion by Mendelssohn! In another place I read that Felix, having discovered the work, added it to his recital repertoire about 1830.


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    Even if it wasn't by Bach, it should have been!
    Graeme

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    I'll take a stab at this:

    Boris Karloff???

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    I am not convinced by any of the arguments that cast doubt on Bach's authorship. It is a quirky piece, compared to Bach's other works in the genre. Seems likely it was an early work, or a transcription of a solo violin piece, as some have suggested.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    Seems likely it was an early work, or a transcription of a solo violin piece, as some have suggested.
    Quite possibly, and perhaps both. (It doesn't sound much like a mature Bach violin piece, either.)

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    Senior Member gardibolt's Avatar
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    The only surviving contemporary manuscript source was a copy made by Johannes Ringk, a student of a student of Bach. (He copied a manuscript his teacher had made, presumably copied from Bach's original. This seems like a pretty good line of provenance and suggests to me the work is authentic.) Ringk's surviving copy was likely made around 1735 when Ringk was a teen. The work wasn't published until 1833. Wikipedia has a discussion of all of these issues.
    Bach also had a huge music library, so it's not out of the question that Ringk's teacher copied something that was just in Bach's library, and not necessarily composed by him, and as the tale grew in the telling it was attributed to the more famous composer rather than whoever actually wrote it. For example, in the 19th century there was a booming cottage industry in attributing to Beethoven pieces that were actually by lesser lights such as Kozeluch, or even outright frauds by publishers who wrote waltzes themselves and published them under Beethoven's name, especially after he was safely dead.

    It could be by Bach, but as noted it isn't much like anything else from him. OTOH, you could probably say that about a lot of different pieces by Bach, so I'd be careful about relying too hard on that point.
    Hours of unrecorded, unpublished and unknown Beethoven works at The Unheard Beethoven

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    Ulysses S. Grant

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    I once heard that several pieces composed by Johann Pachelbel have been misattributed to Johann Bach, contributing to the few works by Pachelbel that have survived in the repertoire. Pachelbel was also a skilled organist who preferred more uncomplicated contrapuntal techniques when he wrote music.

    Or maybe Bach just felt like writing something different.

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