(Also see Chinese version)

Toccata in E Minor, BWV 914 

  • “Toccata”: meaning “to touch” (“toccare” in Italian), a highly virtuosic keyboard genre
  • Bach’s toccatas: combination of German toccata style (more serious counterpoint and complex structure) and Italian toccata style (more showy and flamboyant), with alternating free-style (prelude) and strict structure (fugue) – “stylus phantasticus”
  • Basically two sets of prelude and fugue
  • Seven toccatas in total, this being the shortest of all
  • This toccata is also the only one that starts with a slow section
  • Four sections in this toccata:
  1. A prelude in a rather improvisatory style resembling the composer’s later organ work such as Toccata and Fugue in D minor
  2. A little “fugato”, a double fugue for four voices, lively and rhythmic, 
  3. Adagio: recitative style, combination of Italian aria and Northern German fantasia style, highly improvisatory
  4. A final three-voice fugue with an extended subject, in allegro, idiomatic violin writing, also thought to be originally written for organ, showing tremendous influence from Italian toccata writing (“Naples Manuscript”)

A more “liberal” rendition of the toccata:


A lesser known performer yet with another beautiful version of the same toccata:

More background details and analysis in our membership area post.


Teresa Wong

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