A musical work built on the principle
of polyphonic imitation, that is independent voices imitating each other
and merging into one musical compound.
Like the canon,
a fugue single voice ("comes")
pursues its prior ("Dux"),
and there is an imitation of the subject from one voice to another. Yet
when a canon is based on a perfect imitation (one melody repeating in all
voices), the fugue is based on subjects shifting from voice to voice, and
at the same time we hear counter subjects and different modifications on
these subjects (retrograde, inversion, diminution, augmentation etc.).
The fugue blossomed mainly during
and as in all other baroque forms (except opera), German
master of fugue Johann
as in Goldberg Variations,
the "Well-Tempered Clavier"
and especially at the height of his work "Art
of the Fugue", in which he demonstrated
every technique of the polyphonic
treatment of themes. After Bach, the fugue
was exhausted as a musical form, and except for Beethoven
and few romantic composers who tried to revive
the baroque forms (the neo-classicists like Brahms),
it was not a common form of composition. In the 20th century only a few
composers like Hindemith
wrote in this form.
Little Fugue in Gm, BWV.578
by J.S. Bach
Fugue on piano
by J.S. Bach