Greg Harrington's Solo Violin Transcription of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor

"I have always been intrigued by this incredible piece and the idea of writing a transcription of an organ work on the violin seemed like a wonderful challenge"

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(Photo courtesy: Greg Harrington)

 

The Violin Channel caught up with Irish-born, New York-based violinist Greg Harrington to ask what inspired him to transcribe this iconic work. 

“I approached it almost with a symphonic feel of tone and color,” he told The Violin Channel. “I also wanted to create a work in the vein of Nathan Milstein and Eugène Ysaÿe's writing as they both were such an influence and inspiration to me.”

If Bach were still alive today, Harrington hopes that he would like the arrangement. “He [Bach] was such a visionary in how he perceived music and his instrumentation usage,” Harrington continued. 

“I think he would love the idea of hearing how incredibly versatile this great organ work is through the lens of a solo violin,” he said. “Wouldn't it be fantastic to hear him say ‘Bravo! Now here are a few little things that I would do differently!’”

Harrington’s transcription is accessible to student violinists and concert soloists, encompassing various techniques and challenges. He is open to the idea that the piece could be played on the baroque as well as modern violin.

“With a baroque violin there will be a much warmer feeling of sound creation than the brightness of a modern instrument,” he explained. “In one or two small passages, the length of the fingerboard might come into question but outside that, I’d love to see it performed authentically on a baroque violin with no chin or shoulder rest.”

For Harrington, the biggest challenge in creating this transcription was hearing each note sonically transfer to the violin. The consistent goal was to arrange the piece as "violinistically" as possible.

“Only time will tell,” he said. “But I always love feedback from those that play it!”

To access and purchase the sheet music, click here.