BV 256 - Fantasia contrappuntistica

[Preludio al Corale ’Gloria al Signore nei Cieli’ e fuga a quattro soggetti obbligati sopra un frammento di Bach], 1910


The monumental Fantasia contrappuntistica looms in haughty judgement, reigning in gloomy pomp. It is certainly not an "approachable" work with its thirty-five minutes of dense counterpoint and turgid chorales, arcanely solving the riddles of Bach’s final, unfinished fugue from Die Kunst der Fuge all while unearthing new and abyssal mysteries like a frigid sphinx inscrutably glowering at her victims to-be.

The big Contrappuntistica forms a public, cerebral counterpart to the private, emotional world of the Fantasia nach J.S. Bach written the previous year. The Oedipal content of these two works points in different directions, one Freudian- aiming for reconciliation and acquiescence - the other Mythic - claiming to save Thebes by understanding and destroying the monster.

There are no less than four versions of the Fantasia contrappuntistica, three shorter rotating in satellite form around the "definitive" solo piano piece listed above.

1. Grosse Fuge - Kontrapunktische Fantasie über Joh. Seb. Bachs letztes unvollendetes Werk für Klavier ausgeführt von F.B. (BV 255)
2. Preludio al Corale e fuga sopra un frammento di Bach - edizione minore, 1912 (BV 256 a)
3. Fantasia contrappuntistica per due pianoforti, 1921 (BV 256 b)

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Ferruccio Busoni • Pianist and Composer
Last update: Aug-22-2008