Archive for May 10th, 2007

Phantom Bach Music

May 10, 2007

Robbo has an interesting bit up today about the Bach Toccata and Fugue in d minor (not the far-superior Dorian one, mind you).
First, I have to disagree with Rob’s reflexive dismissal of the Bach:Led Zeppelin analogy that Camille Paglia makes in the article he’s initially discussing. I know it’s a matter of taste, but I at least have experienced emotions inspired by the “heaviness” (“darkness”?) of the organ literature that are very similar to emotions prompted by hard rock and electric blues in the Zeppelin tradition. And I know plenty of rock musicians and metal fans who also like heavy baroque music.
Second, I share Rob’s dislike for the Stokowski version of the T&F in d.
Finally, unlike Rob, for the reasons laid out in another article he cites (and which I cited about a year ago), I still believe that the T&F in d was not authored by Bach, at least not as an organ work. I had the privilege of attending a master class with Peter Williams back in 1999, and he delivered quite a persuasive argument that it was not a Bach organ work. Even when compared with other “youthful” Bach organ works, it just sticks out like a sore thumb. Williams then presented his compelling case that the T&F in d was most likely a transcription from a piece for solo violin.
For further reading, this article expands on Williams’ core idea, but explains how the T&F can be “suspiciously” easy to re-transcribe for play on a 5-string cello.

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