Tune of the Day: Little Fugue in G minor
Let there be no confusion about it: this fugue for organ, BWV 578, is known as the “Little” Fugue not because it is a work of small importance or because it is an unusually short work, but simply so that it and the much longer and later “Great” G minor Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 542, might not be mistaken for one another. Bach probably composed the “Little” G minor Fugue sometime between 1703 and 1707, when he was a young, up-and-coming organist in the city of Arnstadt.
The “Little” G minor's four-and-a-half-measure subject is one of Bach's most widely recognized tunes. During the episodes, Bach employs one of Arcangelo Corelli's most beloved sequential gestures: imitation between two voices on an eighth note upbeat figure that first leaps up a fourth and then falls back down one step at a time.