Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564

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The Toccata in C major (today often more precisely: Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major , BWV 564) is an organ composition by Johann Sebastian Bach , which he wrote in Weimar in 1708 during his time as court organist. The work represents a special feature within Bach's oeuvre because Bach inserts a slow movement between the prelude (the toccata ) and the fugue .



  • Toccata in C major
  • Adagio - Grave in A minor
  • Fugue 6/8 in C major


An improvisation-like introduction of quickly thrown virtuoso manuals is stopped three times by the lowest pedal tone before the pedal begins its own extensive solo. The following, by far the most extensive section of the first movement is clearly inspired by the Italian concerto style; it is based on a few motifs that are contrapuntal against each other. Similar to tutti and solo passages, Bach alternates between full-grip and more transparent textures - the unanimous virtuosity of the introduction is no longer taken up.

The slow movement consists of a delicate, arioso melody of the right hand over a simple chordal accompaniment; the sentence modulates first to the dominant , then to the subdominant and back. Here a short solo cadenza leads into a painful, emphatic swan song, which is characterized by strongly chromatic progressions, suspicions and dissonances ; the tempo designation Grave makes the harmonious intensification visible as if in slow motion.

The final four-part fugue uses a clearly violinist theme with pauses in the dance-like six-eight time. As a counterpoint, Bach establishes a sixteenth- note scale motif that fills the pauses between the themes and, in the first interlude, evokes associations with the final movement of the third Brandenburg Concerto . The proximity to the concertante style also becomes clear in the further course through the use of thirds of the fugue theme and interlocking sixteenth-note motifs at the ends of the movements. A virtuoso cadenza-like passage that leads into the laconically short final chord is reminiscent of the beginning of the toccata from a distance and thus brings the work to a convincing end.


Although the melodic material is unmistakably Bach, the style and structure of the opening bars of the toccata are reminiscent of those of the Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne in C major by Dietrich Buxtehude (BuxWV 137), whom Bach had visited a few years earlier, and whose music is his Clearly influenced style. On the other hand, many details of the work clearly show the influence of the concertante Italian style before Bach got to know Antonio Vivaldi's newer style around 1713/14 .

The idea inserted between Prelude and Fugue slow movement must Bach have tied up for years one - so there from Prelude and Fugue in C major (BWV 545) an early version in B flat major with the middle movement, which later in the Major Organ Sonata in C should appear .


Ferruccio Busoni arranged the work for piano. Nevertheless, the Toccata in C major is clearly overshadowed by the public perception of the better-known Toccata in D minor . The Adagio was published by Pau Casals as a single movement for violoncello with piano accompaniment; in this version the sentence became known.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Christoph Wolff : Johann Sebastian Bach , 2nd edition 2007. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 978-3-596-16739-5
  2. ^ Statement from the English Wikipedia; could not be verified in other literature so far.

Jean-Claude Zehnder, Giuseppe Torelli and Johann Sebastian Bach. To Bach's Weimar concert form. In: Bach Yearbook 1991, pp. 33–96.

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