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Vaughan Williams on Music$
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David Manning

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182392.001.0001

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Gordon Jacob, Passacaglia on a Well-Known Theme

Gordon Jacob, Passacaglia on a Well-Known Theme

(p.413) Chapter 99 Gordon Jacob, Passacaglia on a Well-Known Theme
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

The musical form known as “passacaglia,” which is first cousin to the “chaconne” and “ground” of Henry Purcell, has always been a favorite device with composers. The violin chaconne and the organ passacaglia of Johann Sebastian Bach are well known. The Variations in C minor of Ludwig van Beethoven and the Finale of Johannes Brahms' Fourth Symphony are also in the passacaglia form, though not so called. The device consists in a melodic or rhythmical pattern that persists without interruption throughout the piece, usually in the bass, surrounded by simple or complex figuration as the composer desires. The “well-known” theme on which Gordon Jacob founds his passacaglia is the tune “Oranges and Lemons,” whose bell-like character is well suited to contrapuntal treatment.

Keywords:   musical form, passacaglia, Johann Sebastian Bach, C minor, Ludwig van Beethoven, Gordon Jacob, Oranges and Lemons, contrapuntal treatment

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