This video of the "great" Toccata in d minor BWV 565/1 of J.S. Bach, was recorded by Ms. Joela Jones, principal keyboardist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Ms. Jones is shown seated center stage
in costume at the 1931 Skinner symphonic organ, also known as the Norton Memorial organ, of Severance Hall which is home to the Cleveland Orchestra.
One is hard-pressed to discover a more powerfully performed recording of this work on a better organ that more fully delivers all the gripping, majestic powers at work in this music. For organists, this is THE benchmark
work of the Baroque era -- that piece whose haunting, terrible melody first captured the fascination of so many lifelong Bach-oholic organists and goes far to settle once and for all who is the greatest composer, ever.
There is this caution, however: Although he may not be the first person to have transcribed it to paper and no autograph of it has ever been found,
it's a safe bet that this music originated with the young J.S. Bach as an organ improvisation despite all the scholarly studies done to try to discredit his authorship of or connection with it. It was 20th century American film producers searching for
spooky background music who morphed it into "the Dracula Toccata," a usage born purely out of ignorance of Bach's enormous output and its value as pure music. Bach would be spinning in his grave like a turbine to know that any of his composing had been
appropriated by the modern motion picture industry to deliberately unsettle or alarm an audience when such was never ever, repeat never, his intention as a composer.
As for the macabre image of the organ that hollywood loves to promote, the thing that's scary, if scary it may be called, isn't
the organ. It's who's playing it. It's the idea that this odd character appearing in the film -- this obsessed, pathetic soul tormented by various afflictions -- can operate such a vast, complicated machine single-handedly with cunning and facility
and use its size and power at will to make himself heard.
Details about this music may be viewed
by going to Bach d minor, Parts I-V, in the Blog/archive of this web site.
We thank Ms. Jones for posting this
riveting and powerful interpretation of this famous work on YouTube for public viewing.