June 03, 2013

Egg - Fugue in D Minor (1970)

When they were around the age of seventeen in 1967, Dave Stewart, Mont Campbell, Clive Brooks, and Steve Hillage created a band named Uriel in their hometown of London, England. By the end of the summer in 1968, Hillage left the band to go to college and the remaining members carried on as a trio. They were convinced to change their name to the one seen above, fearing that “Uriel” sounded too much like “urinal.” By the summer of 1969, the band had signed with Deram Records, a subsidiary of Decca, and their first album, self-titled Egg, soon followed. Most of the band’s music was influenced by Bach, Stravinsky, or other classical composers; although the band always put a progressive and psychedelic touch of their own in the arrangements. After two albums, the band lost their record deal and was forced into an early retirement in July 1972, left with a full album’s worth of unrecorded songs. Stewart went on to be in a band called Hatfield and the North, where he arranged to get a deal for Egg to record their unrecorded material. Those songs were recorded for the band’s final album, The Civil Surface, released in 1974.

Credited to Johann Sebastian Bach, this song is generally paired with Bach’s other composition, "Toccata." Together, they’re known as "BMV 565," or Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (Bach Works Catalogue) 565. Although credit is given to Bach for the composition, his authorship has been disputed by musical scholars, noting that the oldest copy of the sheet music used a lot of Italian markings, which was odd for the German Bach born in 1685. This particular version of the song, heard below, was rearranged and released by Egg on their debut album, self-titled Egg, on March 13, 1970. I can’t help but be reminded of the opening title music to the video game Gauntlet II for the NES.

album art

Egg - Fugue in D Minor (1970)

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