'Little' fugue in G minor

'Little' fugue in G minor

BWV 578 performed by Dorien Schouten
Bovenkerk, Kampen

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Music to play

Bursting with enjoyment.

This piece is found in many copies from Bach’s day. Around 100 years after his death, it was published no fewer than four times in rapid succession. Bach’s pupil Johann Georg Schübler thought the theme was so successful that he made a fugue out of it himself. So it was an immensely popular piece. It is not surprising, as the music is bursting with enjoyment. It conjures up a picture of Bach writing enthusiastically and enjoying his own theme while composing. It’s as though he can’t get enough of it, as it is a relatively long time before the second entrance appears.

The piece as a whole has an Italian feel to it and the opening is reminiscent of a violin melody, which is handy to play with an open D string. Although there is plenty of other music that clearly shows a composer relishing his own ideas, it is usually of interest mainly as a ‘composition game’. This piece, however, was not just a game for the composer, but is also fun to listen to and to play. So when organists refer to this piece as the ‘Little’, it is not meant to be denigrating, but is purely to avoid confusion with Bach’s other, longer fugue in G minor, BWV 542, the ‘Great’.

Fugue in G minor
organ works

Extra videos

Organist Dorien Schouten

“This 'little' fugue has a fairly lengthy theme.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    4 November 2016
  • Recording date
    1 October 2015
  • Location
    Bovenkerk, Kampen
  • Organist
    Dorien Schouten
  • Organ
    Reil choir organ
  • Director
    Jan Van den Bossche, Hanna Schreuders
  • Camera
    Maarten van Rossem, Gijs Besseling
  • Music recording, edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Film editor and interview
    Gijs Besseling
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh
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