Bach, J.S. (1685-1750)

Die Kunst der Fuge

Zurich: Hans Georg Nägeli. [ca. 1802]. Oblong folio. 182 (of 183) pages; lacks half-title and last leaf. Engraved throughout. Modern 1/4 calf; title heavily soiled and rubbed, trimmed and mounted, varying soiling and foxing, dampstaining in gutters in second half of volume, penultimate leaf rehinged and remargined. Published around half a century after the first edition, this is a notable publication in the history of the Bach revival at the beginning of the nineteenth century. RISM B 523; Hoboken 1, 146; Kinsky, pages 80 and 120 ("schöngestochene Neudruck in Partitur und Klavierauszug war eine anzuerkennende verlegerische Tat").

Composed in the last decade of his life, The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 is is an incomplete work of unspecified instrumentation and the culmination of Bach's experimentation with monothematic instrumental works. It consists of 14 fugues and 4 canons, each using some variation of a single principal subject, and generally ordered to increase in complexity. "The governing idea of the work", as put by Bach specialist Christoph Wolff, "was an exploration in depth of the contrapuntal possibilities inherent in a single musical subject." ("Johann Sebastian Bach, the Learned Musician," p. 433) (9190)

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