Bach Toccata and Fugue

January 24, 2007 at 03:02 AM · I was wondering if anyone knew where to get a hold of the music to the violin version of the famous D minor Bach Toccata and Fugue, or if anyone's ever played it? I believe the violin version is in A minor...

Replies (32)

January 24, 2007 at 04:17 AM · How cool--never heard it but play it on keyboards--used it in competition... Equally cool because I'm just adapting a Sarabande from classical guitar BVW997-3....

January 24, 2007 at 04:44 AM · I used to have this. It was arranged by Sigiswald Kuijiken (however he's spelled), if that helps you find it. Don't remember the key. It was solo violin. He's recorded it too. His take is that it was originally for violin and that the original is lost.

January 24, 2007 at 07:13 AM · Al, I don't know if you like Vengerov's playing - I've already fessed up that I do - but he recorded this piece and Ysaye (how is that name pronounced?) solo's. A good CD, different mood to other violin CD's that I have.

January 24, 2007 at 07:47 AM · The Tocatta I can envision--the fugue--hmmmm....

The interplay of melody in the fugue, would seem to be at least a duet for two violins maybe. I'd ''''love''' to hear it... Jeez, now I'm hearing a cello in there. Stop!!! ;).

I'd probably even tackle the tocatta--it would be a heck of an articulation exercise at speed for sure. And what an o-double stop pattern in the tocatta--ouch....

I just hit a few licks of the fugue--yep--at least two violins. I could dig the potential chord at the end of the first pattern though. It reminds me of some of the elements in the Sarabande I'm working on.

If you haven't ever envisioned Segovia's version of BVW997-3 on violin instead of guitar--it's haunting; and, I've only gotten the first theme. They're only 1:12 each, and mostly achievable by ear--though a little tricky--especially treatment considered. Sorry, wrong topic.

January 24, 2007 at 12:05 PM · >His take is that it was originally for violin and that the original is lost.

This opinion is a mere guess, and there is no historical evidence that supports it. The eminent organ scholar Peter Williams discusses the idea, but concludes that it is rather improbable.

What most violinists do not know is that there was a style of baroque keyboard playing that was actually called "imitatione violinistica" and employed figures that resembled barriolage techniques. Italian concerto style, after all, was a very attractive way to improvise or compose on the organ, a fashion that led to Bach's Vivaldi arrangements and, in the end, to his major prelude-and-fugue structures.

Of course, the toccata is an attractive, and very, very popular, piece of music, and musicians of all sorts have adapted it -- pianists, xylophonists, accordionists etc. Now violinists have joined the lot. However, this should not lead to hearsay "original" attributions. The piece most probably was always meant for the organ. By whom (Bach? Kellner? Else?) is yet another question.



(who loves organ as much as violin music, and Bach above all)

January 24, 2007 at 12:57 PM · Yes. I should have worded it more carefully, like "He presented some evidence that it was originally for violin." This was twenty years ago. I'm surprised I remember anything at all about it. It must have been good!

January 24, 2007 at 12:50 PM · Fascinating! As one who has made a lot of arrangements myself, I'm also interested in other people's work. Is the Tocatta and Fugue arranged for violin and piano, or is it unaccompanied?

I also heard that Rachmaninov's famous C# minor prelude was arranged for solo violin. Anyone know about that?

Re Ysaye - it's ususally pronounced "ee-zye", with the accent on the 2nd syllable. Are there any fluent French speakers to make it official or to have me stand corrected?

January 24, 2007 at 01:51 PM · Hmm, thanks for the suggestion Jim...can't seem to find the sheet music though. I might just have to transcribe it from a recording if I ever get around to it.

January 24, 2007 at 02:01 PM · Andrew Manze also recorded the Bach Tocatta. And in Strings Magazine about 2 years ago, there was an article about it, as well as 2 pages of it to try out.

Ysaÿe is pronounced by the Belgians as "Isiaah."

January 24, 2007 at 02:19 PM · why not get the sheets written for organ and play the top notes

January 24, 2007 at 02:35 PM · ...the transcription Vengerov is playing was done by a french composer( Lafriche) , I forgot his name or how to spell it...It is not very well done and quite unviolinistic...Everyone knows about the perfection Bach reached about violin writing in his solo Sonatas and Partitas...He was himself quite a skillful violinist as stated by his sons...The toccata is a doubtful work attributed to Bach ( the writing of the fugue is quite anemic, even if the theme is seductive, compared to other works by the master).It is pure speculation to affirm that the toccata was written originally for the violin...but can serve the interest of a non- scrupulous concert violinist, for the "show"...I agree with Fredrich.


January 24, 2007 at 07:10 PM · Here you can listen to a sample of Manze's version. It's track 11. I like it a lot. I think the whole thing is about 8 min. long. "Reconstructed", somebody (Manze?) says, from BWV 565 :)

January 24, 2007 at 03:39 PM · Johnny - I lived in France and studied violin there and my recollection of the pronunciation of the name was more like "Eesay"

January 24, 2007 at 04:33 PM · Tom, being french on one side,and latino on the other, I would say that the correct prononciation for Ysaïe is EZAE, the prononciation of the letter "A" in french being more open, like in the word AWFUL or AVERSION...


January 24, 2007 at 04:51 PM · Marc - I do not think we are far apart. However, I do not recall the final "e" being pronounced or barely.

January 24, 2007 at 05:36 PM · Hi,

I love the spelling bee above ;-) (and the recording by Manze, which is awesome). In my experience, the final "ee" in "ee-su-ee" is pronounced, the reason being that the second "y" carries a little horizontal ":" which you can see on wikipedia.

Totally unrelated, but hopefully funny enough to be stated here anyway:

How is "ghoti" pronounced in English?

Easy, like "fish": "gh" like in "enough", "o" like in "women" and "ti" like in "nation".

Bye, Juergen

January 24, 2007 at 06:29 PM · Jim, that was interesting--different--but interesting. I'm going to do some of it for an exercise.

And whomever mentioned Rachmaninov Concerto in C#--It brought to mind a piano theme I do from that--now headed for violin--I know it's going to be as as cool as SEgovia.

January 24, 2007 at 06:44 PM · ...barely pronouced Tom.

January 24, 2007 at 08:17 PM · Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. Keep them coming!

January 24, 2007 at 08:41 PM · Ysaye = Isaiah in the Belgian language.

I always pronounced it Ee-zay-(uh) myself, but that's just me.

January 24, 2007 at 08:49 PM · This is the link to vengerov's, personally I prefer it, maybe because it sticks to what

I'm familiar with from pipe organ (E Power Biggs Plays Bach was my brother's 13th birthday present, imprinted on my 8 year old psyche).

Off topic, but can't those guys at Amazon put some thought into how they do their sound clips. I wanted to test run Vengerov's Beethoven, but the clip runs straight from the beginning, no matter what, so all you get is orchestra. Hmmph.

January 24, 2007 at 08:53 PM · Amy, I am sorry...Fox-Lefriche wrote the transcription...from D minor to A minor...He did it exclusively for Vengerov...

Try to find Bruce Fox-Lefriche, maybe he will accept to send you a copy...


January 24, 2007 at 11:34 PM · Thanks Marc! I'll look into that.

January 24, 2007 at 11:43 PM · I found something here, Score details

Arranged by Gabriël Oberholzer

Instrumentation solo instrument (Violin)

Category Concert

Genre Classical

Duration 4 minutes

Difficulty Difficult/professional (Grades 7-8+)

This implies there were sheets printed in strings magazine after the article: "Is the classic Toccata and Fugue in D minor for organ really a lost violin piece? And just who wrote it? Bruce Fox-Lefriche debunks myths. With music to play."

If nothing else maybe you could write to maxim, i just bumped into his myspace page click on the send a message link, although it says he hasnt logged in in a long time

January 25, 2007 at 02:16 AM · Tom:

I've heard Francophone Belgians (Walloons) pronounce Ysaÿe as "Isiaah." Also remember that Belgium is a multi-cultural country, with French and Flemish mixing frequently. België is pronounced in Flemish/Dutch with a "?" (schwa) at the end. Spreekt iemand hier Vlaams?


January 25, 2007 at 04:08 AM · All this has put an awful ditty in my head. And I think the only way to expiate it is to inflict it on all of you!

Ysaye, Ysaye!

Do not decry

His solo sonatas

Are the reason why!

May 4, 2007 at 02:06 AM · Toccata for Solo Violin

from Toccata and Fugue in D minor for organ BWV565

Availability: Score (fp) 50803 0 on sale

Faber Music Limited

3 Queen Square

London WC1N 3AU


[Click on this URL to see musical examples and an article about this version ]

January 23, 2012 at 01:06 AM · Who knows where to find the Fox-Lefriche version of the Toccata and Fugue as played here..?

January 23, 2012 at 01:07 AM · Who knows where to find the Fox-Lefriche version of the Toccata and Fugue as played here..?

January 23, 2012 at 03:00 PM · There is an interesting arrangement of BWV565 for VIOLA solo, published by Euprint.

See for more info and samples Click on "Catalogue > all", select composer "Bach" and ensemble "viola".



January 24, 2012 at 03:17 AM · It can be ordered through:

May 8, 2014 at 09:39 PM · Hi. Just saw the post. My son has written an arrangement of the T&F for solo violin - in the original key. Lauren Keiser Music is his publisher. You can purchase at Sheet Music Plus ( You can view his YouTube video at Good luck!

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