Theme from Passacaglia, BWV 582 (Bach)

This famous organ work by Bach, arranged for 1 piano, 4 hands, is a wonderful way to introduce Baroque ornaments and practice bass ostinatos.

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The passacaglia  is a musical form that originated in early seventeenth-century Spain. It is usually of a serious character, with a foundation of a ground bass ostinato, and written in triple metre.

Composed early in Bach’s career (possibly right after his first extended stay with Dietrich Buxtehude, this Passacaglia for organ is one of Sebatian’s most important and well-known works. It is a theme and variations form, with 21 variations after the opening ostinato. Robert Schumann described the variations of the passacaglia as “intertwined so ingeniously that one can never cease to be amazed.”

This arrangement includes the ostinato and the first two variations, which are the easier variations in the work. Fingerings are included in the beginning, but students should work out fingerings for themselves in the later measures.

While the piece has quite a bit of contrapuntal movement in it, it is performed slowly, so it is easier to master. The primo part has two ornaments, so it is slightly harder than the secondo.

Engraved in “facing pages” format as well as “combined score” format for maximum flexibility.

Key: C minor

Mood: serious, affected

Pedagogy: ornaments,  ensemble playing


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