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Length: 13 mins

About this Piece

The sole passacaglia for organ by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) borrows also from the solo chaconne form as it eventually loses the anchoring theme in the pedals. The form transforms again when it concludes with a double fugue.

Not counting the fugue or opening theme, the 21 variations on the theme make symbolic meaning out of Biblical numbers 3 x 7, along with incorporating Lutheran hymns. Organists experiment with tempo, some getting away with playing it extremely fast, while others emphasize the grandeur that builds gradually in one seemingly continuous gesture.