Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565
Johann Sebastian Bach
The second highest of Bach's 11 entries in the Ultimate Hall of Fame. This peaked at number 33 in 2008.
Written initially for the organ — an instrument that Stravinsky called "the monster that never breathes" — Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is a piece of music that many would not want to meet down a dark alley.
The transcription of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for orchestra by 20th century musician Leopold Stokowski retains the frightening tone of Bach's originial version.
A piece of such epic proportions and colossal twists and turns, some believe that the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor was too fiery to even be written by Bach himself. The lack of a surviving manuscript with Bach's scrawls on it and the complete originality of the work has lead many music historians to doubt its provenance; the one-off nature and the very un-Bach-like characteristics of the piece have been at the root, since the 1980s at least, of a growing body of opinion among musicologists that Toccata and Fugue can't be Bach's work. If he did write it, say the believers, it was probably when he was very young — possibly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two.
Still, the finest performances prove that, no matter who actually wrote it, it's a masterpiece of epic proportions.
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