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So You Want To Write A Fugue

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So You Want To Write A Fugue?

So You Want to Write a Fugue? is a satirical composition for four voices and string quartet or four voices and piano accompaniment. It was composed by the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould and was a final piece for the television show The Anatomy of Fugue, which was broadcast on March 4, 1963 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.



The work is the result of Gould’s intense study of the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach, in particular Bach's late work The Art Of Fugue, excerpts of which Gould had recorded in 1962. Structurally the piece is modeled on just such a Bach Fugue. The text, however, was written on the subject "So you want to write a fugue?"" Both the text and the music are parodies of the rules and compositional techniques of the genre, as well as the relationship between intellectual methods and artistic intuition in the creative process (e.g., "Just forget the rules, and write one"). Lyrically, the 5-minute piece concludes tongue-in-cheek with the decision to "write a fugue right now!". The piece contains numerous quotes from various works of Bach, including the famous sequence of notes B-A-C-H, the Second Brandenburg Concerto, and Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (altered from major mode to minor).


  • Glenn Gould: So You Want to Write a Fugue? New York: Schirmer, 1964.
  • Discography

  • The Glenn Gould Edition: Gould, Schostakowitsch, Poulenc, Scl (Sony BMG), 1997.
  • The Glenn Gould Silver Jubilee Album, Scl (Sony BMG), 1998.
  • Literature

  • Glenn Gould (1986) (in German), So you want to write a fugue? (In: Von Bach bis Boulez. Schriften zur Musik I), München: Piper, ISBN 3-492-03008-4 
  • References

    So You Want To Write A Fugue? Wikipedia

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