Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565
Johann Sebastian Bach

43

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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.