Karl Richter plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565

German conductor, choirmaster, organist, and harpsichordist Karl Richter (15 October 1926 – 15 February 1981) plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. An amazing performance, enjoy.

The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, is a piece of organ music written by Johann Sebastian Bach. First published in 1833 through the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn, the piece quickly became popular, and is now one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire. Since the 1970s, some scholars have challenged the attribution of the piece to Bach (see the wikipedia article). These included, but were not limited to, the following, all either unique or extremely rare for organ music of the period the toccata is allegedly from:

  • Parallel octaves throughout the opening of the toccata
  • True subdominant answers in the fugue
  • A pedal statement of the subject, unaccompanied by other voices
  • Primitive harmonies throughout the piece, with countersubjects in the fugue frequently moving through thirds and sixths only
  • Conclusion of the piece on a minor plagal cadence

Karl Richter played and conducted a wide range of music (sacred works from Heinrich Schütz to Max Reger, as well as the symphonic and concerto repertoire of the Classical and Romantic period even including Bruckner’s symphonies), but is best remembered for his interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach and Handel.

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