Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565


Johann Sebastian Bach
B. March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany
D. July 28, 1750 in Leipzig, Germany

Arr. Leopold Stokowski
B. April 18, 1882, London, England
D. Sept. 13, 1977, Nether Wallop, England

Leopold Stokowski’s legendary career began as an organist, and the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach formed a great part of his repertoire. Shortly after becoming conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1912, he began to make orchestral transcriptions of many Bach works, and in doing so brought to a wide audience music that they probably would not otherwise have heard. The idea of recasting Bach’s organ works for orchestra did not originate with Stokowski (Mahler, Schoenberg, Respighi, Grainger and Stravinsky are others who did the same thing), but he made more than anyone else, around fifty in all. This particular arrangement is the best known of all Bach transcriptions, due in large part to its inclusion in Walt Disney’s classic animated film, Fantasia, in 1940. This work is one of Bach’s most original creations, and one of the freest in form. It probably began its life as an improvisation by the master himself in St. Thomas’ Church in Leipzig. This classic transcription was first performed by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in February 1926.

 The DSO last performed Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor arranged by Leopold Stokowski in July 2003.

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