Prelude (Toccata) and Fugue in E major, BWV 566

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Prelude (Toccata) and Fugue in (C or) E major, BWV 566 is an organ work written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1708. It comprises four sections and is an early[1] work of Bach's.

Its form resembles the Preludes and Fugues of Buxtehude. The first section alternates manual or pedal cadenzas with dense suspended chords. The second is a charming fughetta with much repetition following the circle of fifths. The third section is a brief flourish for manuals, ending with an even briefer pedal cadenza punctuated with 9-voice chords. The fourth section, in 3/4 time, is a second fugue with a rhythmic subject resembling the theme of the first fughetta.

Bach also wrote a transposed version of the piece in C major, to play on organs tuned in meantone where E major would sound discordant due to the organ's temperament. Various recordings of the C major version exist mainly on historic instruments, for example Ton Koopman's recording on the Schnitger organ in Hamburg's Jacobikirche, and Marie-Claire Alain's recording on the Silbermann organ at Freiberg Cathedral. Both have a high pitch leaving the "concert" pitch up to a tone higher than modern pitch, where the temperament is significantly unequal to merit playing it away from E major. Modern organs or those tuned to a more equal temperament do not have this need.

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  1. ^ Jones, Richard D.P. (2007), The creative development of Johann Sebastian Bach, 1, New York: Oxford University Press Inc., ISBN 978-0-19-816440-1 

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