Johann Sebastian Bach
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D Minor  ~  S. 903
A Transcription for Organ


A reconstruction of the history of S. 903 would suggest that the fantasia was composed in 1717.  There is no known autograph manuscript from Bach, and the first dated copy was prepared by Johann Tobias Krebs, father of Johann Ludwig Krebs and one of Bach's coterie of colleagues and students.  The fugue made its first appearance paired with the fantasia in a copy dating from Bach's early Lepzig years (ca. 1730).  Written originally for clavier, S. 903 has made the transition from clavichord, harpsichord and early pianoforte to the modern piano of the 20th and 21st centuries.  It has been offered in multiple published editions that date from the early 1800s onward, eventually attracting the attention of Max Reger, who prepared a transcription for pipe organ. The score offered in this newly reformatted publication from FMP incorporates expressive keyboard techniques and idiomatic Baroque performance practices of the 18th Century, often notated in elaborate detail.
        Why the Bach portrait reproductions displayed below?
  The portraits display a panoramic perspective of Bach at different stages in his life. The Rentsch portrayal (athough disputed by some) provides a more youthful view than the other three images. The Ehle canvas would have dated from his Cöthen tenure. The third canvas, by Haussmann, was painted and duplicated by the artist during Bach’s elder years. The fourth image, known by some as the Vollbach portrait, is of uncertain provenance; it presents a rare and revealing visage of the composer late in his life.  The canvas is said to have been allotted to one of Bach’s Leipzig students after his passing: Johann Christian Kittel (1732-1809) went on to become organist of the Predigerkirche in Erfurt, where the likeness was hung behind drapes in the organ gallery during his tenure and unveiled for special guests – as well as for students whose lessons merited the honor. The quartet presented below offers a visual reminder of the evolution of the fantasia and fugue over a period of time, a maturation process that can be found again and again in Bach’s vast repertoire.

Four Bach Portraits
Reconstructions from Internet Public Domain Source Materials
Please consult the URL listings provided below for more information and detail


          Johann Ernst Rentsch  (ca. 1715)

Johann Jakob Ehle  (1720)
        Elias Gottlob Haussmann  (ca. 1746 & 48)
 Ascribed to  Elias Gottlob Haussmann  (ca. 1750?)

Click picture link above for Bach S. 903
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      URLs for Internet postings of photographic portrait images and texts
            Johann Sebastian BACH: Portrait in Old Age

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