Bach/Busoni - a pairing that makes pianists’ hearts beat faster. This is because Busoni succeeded in making piano transcriptions of works that Bach had originally tailor-made for another instrument in such a way that one can still sense the original sound world while the grand piano is able to show off its full potential.
Together with the C-major Toccata, BWV 564, his transcription of the Organ Toccata in D minor, BWV 565 (now, after some interim uncertainty, once more considered a work by Bach), was to round off his reworkings of Bach for Breitkopf & Härtel in 1900. In Busoni’s view a worthy culmination because the toccatas were indeed - as he informed his publisher - “obviously the best among my achievements of this kind and I am confident in expecting they will make a strong impact”.
G. Henle Publishers agrees with this assessment and presents the famous D-minor Toccata and Fugue in an attractive Urtext edition that has consulted all of the sources and offers fingerings by the exceptional pianist Marc-André Hamelin.
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Ferruccio Busoni (1866 – 1924) was especially appreciated by his publisher Breitkopf & Härtel for his arrangements of works by Johann Sebastian Bach. These were highly marketable, and this fact might well have eased the path to publication of many of his own compositions. On 17 July 1899, Busoni had to offer excuses for the delay in delivering his Geharnischte Suite and … more
About the composer
Important composer, pianist, conductor, and music essayist who advocated for classicality and classicism in a mode of thought aligned with progress. In addition, he adapted and transcribed quite a few works, especially those of Johann Sebastian Bach.
|1866||Born in Empoli on April 1, the son of a clarinetist and a pianist. His parents foster his musical education. Prodigy: early career as a pianist.|
|1887||String Quartet in D minor, Op. 26.|
|from 1888||Piano instructor in Helsinki, Moscow, and Boston.|
|1890||Participates in the piano and composition categories of the Rubinstein Competition in St. Petersburg with his Sonata No. 1 in E minor, for violin and piano, Op. 29; the Two Pieces for Piano, Op. 30a; and Konzertstück for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 31a. This last piece wins the first prize in composition.|
|1894||Moves to Berlin.|
|1897/1904||Comedy Overture, Op. 38.|
|1903–04||Concerto, Op. 39, for piano, orchestra, and male choir in five movements with a concluding choral movement.|
|1907||Essay: “Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music.”|
|1909||“Berceuse élégiaque,” Op. 42.|
|1909–10||Second tour of America.|
|1910||“Fantasia contrappuntistica” for piano as an attempt to find a conclusion for Bach’s “Art of Fugue.”|
|1912||Performance in Hamburg of his opera “Die Brautwahl” (“The Bridal Choice”).|
|1913||Director of the Liceo Musicale in Bologna.|
|1915||Rondò arlecchinesco, Op. 46.|
|1915–20||Living in Zurich, due to the war.|
|1917||Performances in Zurich of his operas “Turandot” and “Arlecchino”; they draw upon the Commedia dell’arte.|
|1920||Director of a master class at the Prussian Arts Academy in Berlin. Tanzwalzer, Op. 53.1922 Essay “On the Unity of Music.”|
|1924||Dies in Berlin on July 27.|
|1925||Posthumous performance in Dresden of his opera “Doktor Faust.”|