Russ Bonser: This photo was taken when I was 17 years of age at a theatre in Melbourne Australia. It was a restored Wurlitzer organ built in 1928. It used to elevate out of the floor and was played before and at theatre intervals. It was also used in the occasional concert. This was my first introduction to pipe organs.
Composers who lived after Johann Sebastian Bach sometimes wanted to pay tribute to the great Master and used his ideas (harmonic, melodic, rhythmical or polyphonic) in their pieces. Another way to imprint his legacy for future generations is to use his name directly in composition. It all started with Bach himself, of course, most notably in the last Contrapunctus of the Art of Fugue, among other cases.
The thing is, that these four letters B-A-C-H (in German B means Bb and H - the note B) could serve very well as a subject for a fugue. They form chromatic ascending sequence, they can be inverted, diminished, augmented, played in canon, harmonized in multiple ways and put into various voices in various keys.
Such a piece for today's sight-reading exercise is the Chromatic Fugue on BACH by Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782) who was the youngest son of Johann Sebastian. It could be performed equally well on the piano or the organ since it doesn't have any pedal part.
Play this fugue very slowly because it is extremely chromatic. Aim for articulate legato touch. Interestingly, the piece is written in F major, but the cadence on page 3 is in C minor (half authentic cadence). This fugue will challenge your harmonic skills as well because these sequences will take you to some wild keys.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.