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Leopold Stokowski (1882 - 1977)


Toccata and Fugue in D minor (JS Bach)
Music from Fantasia

The youthful J. S. Bach was something of a radical, often composing wild music to show off his own talents at the organ console. The Toccata and Fugue in D minor was such a piece, written when Bach was in his 20s and working at Weimar.

Leopold Stokowski was a fine organist himself, and had played the Bach piece many times, before turning to conducting and making orchestral transcriptions. His arrangement is frankly outrageous, but emphasises the astonishing inventiveness of the original. The toccata is free and improvisatory, and leads into a powerful fugue based on the first few notes of the toccata. The fugue opens in the strings and gradually moves through the orchestra, and towards its close branches out again into the flamboyant style of the opening toccata. As well as being a spectacular showpiece for orchestra, it is quite surprisingly difficult to play!

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