Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, is a piece of organ music attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. It is one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire, and has been used in a variety of popular media ranging from film, video games, to rock music, and ringtones. The attribution of the piece to Bach is doubtful and it has been challenged since the 1980s by a number of scholars.


In popular culture

The piece was used prominently in the 1975 film Rollerball (as mentioned above) to establish a foreboding mood at the beginning of the film and reinforce the dystopic emotions of the end of the film. The Disney film Fantasia, released in 1940, opens with Leopold Stokowski's 1927 transcription for large orchestra of the Toccata and Fugue.

The piece has also been used multiple times in popular music and cultural settings: Keith Emerson performed the Toccata section as part of the song Rondo performed by The Nice and later in live shows with Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Emerson would play this on his Hammond organ upside down.

The English classical/rock fusion band Sky (featuring renowned classical guitarist John Williams and classical percussionist Tristan Fry) scored a Top 10 pop hit with their 1980 arrangement of BWV 565. It reached number 24 on the Billboard charts. English Hard rock band Deep Purple has used the piece as an introduction to their song "Highway Star" at various live shows.

English alternative rock band Muse has used toccata of this song in their guitar riff for the song "Plug in Baby", which Total Guitar readers voted as the 13th best of all-time. The song "Bach Onto This", an instrumental rock track on ex-Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord's 1982 album "Before I Forget", uses extensive sections of both the Toccata and the Fugue. The intro is also used in part for the introduction of Last Rites/Loved to Deth by the American thrash metal group Megadeth. American glam metal band Mötley Crüe has used the piece as an introduction to their gigs at their three first world tours. Blondie interpolated BWV 565 with rock and rap music for the track "No Exit" on a 1999 album of the same name. Norwegian music group Ulver incorporated parts of BWV 565 into the song "It Is Not Sound" featured on their 2005 album Blood Inside.

This piece in played in various video games such as Battle Arena Toshinden (the theme of Sho) or Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All (prologue), as well as movies like 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (during the destruction of Woldercan). It is also played along with the "wonder movie" for J.S. Bach's Cathedral in the computer game Civilization II.

Lady Gaga played the beginning of the piece as an interlude in the song "Born This Way" at the 53rd Grammy Awards and during her Monster Ball Tour.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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