Art of Fugue

Lecture Series by Dr. Vladimir Chaloupka

University of Washington, April/May 2004

7 - 9 PM in the Ronald Geballe Auditorium (Physics/Astronomy A102)


See below for links to Program Notes of the recital, and to the GEBH article on Goedel, Escher, Bach, Hofstadter. For an online version of this announcement, with links and updates, see

The lecture series (public, free admission) will cover many aspects of J.S.Bach's Kunst der Fuge, and is designed to serve as preparation (for the lecturer as well as for the audience) of the recital on May 23rd. No previous knowledge of counterpoint is required. At the same time, it is hoped that the Kunst der Fuge 'afficionados' will not be bored. The lectures are as independent as possible, so people should feel free to skip any (or all) of them.


Lecture 1: April 30

[  ] Kunst der Fuge as Triple Art: the art of:
     1. composing a fugue
playing a fugue
     3. listening to a fugue

[  ] The Physics Department Experimental PC-based Pipeless Pipe Organ will be unveiled, and Fugue #1 performed.


[  ] elements of counterpoint explained and demonstrated (theme, voices, countersubject, multiple fugue, stretto, augmentation and diminution, pitch inversion, counterpoint inversion, pedal point, ...), and a "physicist's piano roll" notation will be demonstrated.

[ ]  Fugue #1 performed again


Lecture 2: May 7

Each of the 14 fugues analyzed, with demonstrations. The pipe organ will be argued to be an ideal instrument for KdF, and physics-of-music reasons for not doubling the organ pedal by 16' stops when playing a fugue will be explained. The role of dissonance, fusion, melody vs. harmony, and interpretation will be discussed. The lecture will end by asking the question: "Why is the Art of Fugue unfinished? (or is it?)"


Lecture 3: May 14

Various Bach myths will be disputed. The genetic aspect of the Bach phenomenon will be pointed out, and its spiritual aspect will be compared to the main idea of "Amadeus" (the play/movie). A (possibly controversial) set of Theses on Kunst Der Fuge will be argued. Finally, a new answer (theory/hypothesis) will be given to the question of the Unfinished Fugue.


[ ] Fugues 1 - 6 performed (the remaining eight fugues, including the giant unfinished Fugue #14, are on the program of the recital at the St. Joseph pipe organ, May 23, 2004).

[ ] In conclusion, the ultimate meaning of Bach - the connections to GEBH and to JANUS - will be spelled out.



Johann Sebastian Bach: Kunst der Fuge

Organ recital by Vladimir Chaloupka at the St. Joseph church

corner of 18th Ave East and Aloha on Capitol Hill, Seattle

Sunday May 23, 2004 at 3 PM




I. Fugues 1 - 9


II. Fugues 11, 12 rectus, 10, 12 inversus

III. Fugue 14 (Unfinished)