Visualizing Bach

To learn more and listen to the Bach’s Little Fugue In G minor 

click on the color graphic on your right.

Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany, where his father was a town musician. Bach came from a long line of musicians and composers. By the time Johann was 10, both his parents had died, so he was brought up by his older brother, who was a church organist in Ohrdruf. Johann became a very good organist, too. 

BWV 578 Fugue in G minor (popularly known as The Little Fugue) is a piece of organ music written by Bach during his years at Arnstadt (1703–1707). It is one of Bach's best known fugues and has been arranged for other voices, including an orchestral version by Leopold Stokowski. Early editors of Bach's work attached this title to distinguish it from the Great Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, which is longer and more challenging to play. The word fugue literally means fight. Can you hear the conflict in this music?

This graphic represents what I see when I close my eyes and listen to The Little Fugue. Why not try it yourself? Don’t copy my work. Listen to Bach and draw a picture of how it sounds to you?

By April 1700, Bach and his school friend Georg Erdmann were enrolled in the prestigious St. Michael's School in Lüneburg, some two weeks' travel north of Ohrdruf.  It is thought the two boys walked the entire way. Bach’s two years there exposed him to a wider range of European culture. In addition to singing in the choir, he played the school's three-manual organ and harpsichords. He came into contact with sons of aristocrats from northern Germany who were sent to the highly selective school to prepare for careers.

BWV 812 The Gigue from the French Suite is a lively baroque dance originating from the Irish jig. It was imported into France in the 17th Century and usually appears at the end of a suite. In early French theatre, it was customary to end a play's performance with a gigue, complete with music and dancing. A gigue, like other Baroque dances, consists of two sections. In Bach's gigues, each section often begins as a fugue, in which the theme used in the first section is inverted in the second section. 

This graphic represents what I see when I close my eyes and listen to Gigue from the French Suite. Why not try it yourself? Don’t copy my work. Listen to Bach and draw a picture of how it sounds to you?

​

To learn more and listen to the Bach’s The Gigue from the French Suite 

click on the color graphic on your right.

Bach held three major jobs in his life: first he worked for a duke, then for a prince, and finally, he became director of music at the St. Thomas Church and School in Leipzig, Germany. Even though his job in Leipzig kept him very busy, Bach found time to conducted a group of musicians who liked to get together to perform at Zimmerman’s,  a local coffee house. 

BWV 564 During his early days as a professional organist, Bach tinkered and toyed with all shapes, sizes, and kinds of organ music, eventually perfecting the two-part toccata and fugue or prelude and fugue form. Only a single surviving work shows the composer's interest in a three-part example of that form: the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, which has been attributed to Bach's years in Weimar. It shares some similarities with other toccatas composed around the same time, all show the influence of concerto style and form.

This graphic represents what I see when I close my eyes and listen to Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major. Why not try it yourself? Don’t copy my work. Listen to Bach and draw a picture of how it sounds to you?

​

To learn more and listen to the Bach’s Toccata, Adagio & Fugue In C 

click on the color graphic on your right.

To learn more and listen to the Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, 

click on the color graphic on your right.

In Leipzig, Bach broadened his composing and performing by taking over the directorship of the Collegium Musicum, a secular performance ensemble. This was one of the dozens of private societies in the major cities that were established by musically active university students; these societies had become increasingly important in public musical life and were typically led by the most prominent professionals in a city.  Assuming the directorship was a shrewd move that consolidated Bach's firm grip on Leipzig's principal musical institutions. Year round, Leipzig's Collegium Musicum performed regularly in venues such as the Café Zimmermann, a coffeehouse on Catherine Street off the main market square. 

BWV 1004 The D minor Chaconne for solo violin (BWV 1004) by Johann Sebastian Bach was written between 1717 and 1720. It is a part of his compositional cycle called Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. Yehudi Menuhin called the Chaconne "the greatest structure for solo violin that exists". Violinist Joshua Bell said the Chaconne is "not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history." A popular keyboard arrangement of the Chaconne was created by the 19th Century musician Ferruccio Busoni.

This graphic represents what I see when I close my eyes and listen to The D minor Chaconne. Why not try it yourself? Don’t copy my work. Listen to Bach and draw a picture of how it sounds to you?

From 1723 Bach was employed as cantor at St. Thomas in Leipzig. He composed music for the principal Lutheran churches of the city, and for its university's student ensemble Collegium Musicum. From 1726 he published some of his keyboard music. He had difficult relations with his employers in Leipzig. The the friction only got worse when he  was  granted the title of court composer by his sovereign, Augustus, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, in 1736.  

BWV 582 Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor is an organ piece by Johann Sebastian Bach. Presumably composed early in Bach's career, it is one of his most important and well-known works and an important influence on 19th and 20th century passacaglias. Robert Schumann described the variations of the passacaglia as "intertwined so ingeniously that one can never cease to be amazed.” Like other compositions of the Baroque era the Passacaglia is based on a dance. In this case the dance originated in Spain. Passacaglia in Spanish means passing (or dancing) through the street.

This graphic represents what I see when I close my eyes and listen to Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.  Why not try it yourself? Don’t copy my work. Listen to Bach and draw a picture of how it sounds to you?

In 1703 Johann Sebastian Bach was given his first temporary position in Weimar as court musician. It is widely assumed that he participated as a violinist in the duke’s own chamber music ensemble. Weimar is a city known for its cultural heritage. This is where great personalities from the history of art and culture lived, such as the famous poets Goethe and Schiller.

BWV 565 The Toccata and Fugue in D minor is a piece of organ music written by Bach that opens with a toccata section, followed by a fugue that ends in a coda. It is one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire. Scholars differ as to when it was composed. It could have been as early as c.1704 when the composer was still in his teens. The first publication of the piece, in the Bach Revival era. The composer Felix Mendelssohn, who also performed the piece in an acclaimed concert in 1840 was largely credited with reviving interest in Bach’s work. In the 20th Century its popularity rose above that of other organ compositions, largely due to its inclusion in Walt Disney's Fantasia (in Stokowski's orchestral transcription). 

This graphic represents what I see when I close my eyes and listen to Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Why not try it yourself? Don’t copy my work. Listen to Bach and draw a picture of how it sounds to you?

​

To learn more and listen to the Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor 

click on the color graphic on your right.

To learn more and listen to the Bach-Bussoni version of the D minor Chaconne 

click on the color graphic on your right.

To examine our privacy policy and terms of service click here.