Bach Violin Fugue on Organ at Harvard’s Busch Hall

Frederick Hohman plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Fiddle” Fugue in D minor, BWV 539, on the Flentrop organ at Busch Hall (formerly Busch Reisinger Museum) at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This is one instance where J. S. Bach (1685-1750) transcribed a piece for the pipe organ that he originally composed for a different music medium. This fugue is found as the second movement in Bach’s Sonata No. 1 for Solo Violin in G minor, BWV 1001. When adapting the fugue for solo organ, Bach transposed the work to the key of D minor, and added many passages which were not in the violin original, which embellish and enhance the work. Therefore, this organ fugue has earned a nickname: “The Fiddle.”

There are two points in the performance of the fugue where Frederick Hohman alternates manuals, in an echo fashion.

Prior to the installation of the Flentrop organ in the late 1950s, Harvard’s Busch Reisinger Museum was the home to an organ by Aeolian-Skinner that exhibited the design of its tonal director, G. Donald Harrison. Mr. Biggs was heard playing the Aeolian-Skinner organ over the CBS radio network, with a 15-minute broadcast every Sunday morning, during the early 1950s. The Aeolian-Skinner organ at Busch-Reisinger was removed and replaced by the Flentrop organ seen in this video. It was acquired for Harvard University with the help of concert organist E. Power Biggs. Mr. Biggs made several LP recordings for Columbia Records on this Flentrop organ after 1960.

Frederick Hohman’s concert schedule may be viewed at and his recordings may be searched and purchased at .

The 30-minute Midnight Pipes video program from which this video is excerpted is sold as a VHS Hi-Fi product, item 9023, at .

13 thoughts on “Bach Violin Fugue on Organ at Harvard’s Busch Hall

  1. Robert Gift

    Wonderful performance and video.
    Thank you.
    Also, all the information provided is appreciated.

    Where is the Aeolian-Skinner organ removed from this hall?

    Does this organ have an extra set of pipes which is exchanged with an existing rank?
    Thank you.

  2. Francis1930

    Absolutely outstanding – the clarity of the organ with the acoustics is perfect, I think I last played this piece back in about 1953! I'll have to dust off my organ manuals in practice this one up again! Thank you for inspiring me.

  3. OrganoAeternam

    Beautiful Organ, Colorful registrations, imaginative interpretation! Loved it! and I'm usually a Koopman fan. I have found yet another Organist who does Bach justice! Thank you so much Mr. Hohman. I wish I could find an Organist of your caliber around me so that I might learn and grow from them. Thanks again!

  4. kraftpr

    This organ literally defined BACH for me ever since I received the first 2 volumes of Biggs' "Bach Organ Favorites" from my brother for Christmas. I was hooked and still have every LP in the series. One of the many influences in my early aspirations to become an organist.  Nice to actually see it being played.


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