Chapter

The G-minor <i>Fuga</i>

Joel Lester

in Bach's Works for Solo Violin

Published in print October 1999 | ISBN: 9780195120974
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865406 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195120974.003.03
The G-minor Fuga

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Fugue was a highly honored genre in Bach's era. The fugues in each solo-violin sonata are among the longest fugues that Bach ever wrote, yet were written for solo violin, an instrument whose technical limitations make it difficult to project a fully contrapuntal texture. The violinistic difficulties built into these fugues are a factor in the construction of these movements. Each fugue divides into sections on the basis of cadences. The principle of heightening activity means that each section features internal growth in complexity, and each section is more elaborate than previous sections in terms of contrapuntal devices, chromaticism, key changes, and violinist virtuosity. Bach's own arrangements of the G-minor fugue for organ and fugal analyses by musicians associated with Bach show the relationship between common thoroughbass patterns and fugal counterpoint, as well as the interaction between point-to-point harmony and larger structures. Comparing Bach's own organ arrangement with Robert Schumann's accompaniment highlights the differences between 18th and 19th century conceptions of musical structure.

Keywords: fugue; cadence; heightening activity; Robert Schumann; thoroughbass; counterpoint; chromaticism; virtuosity

Chapter.  9299 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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