Contrapunctus XIV

The images of the mirror fugues and the augmentation canon showed the final acts of dying stars. Some stars, however, do much more than shed their layers in gently expanding shells: they blow themselves to bits in catastrophic supernova explosions. Shock waves from these supernovae propagate across the galaxy, and occasionally these shocks smash into cold, dark clouds of gas. Thus impelled, the gas can begin to contract under its own gravity, heating and beginning to glow. Eventually, stars are born from these contracting clouds of gas. All around the Milky Way are such stellar nurseries, the birthplaces of new stars, new light, new warmth. The Orion Nebula, pictured above, glows with this light. A cluster of four of these young stars, known as the Trapezium, is visible at center. In the grandest sense, death is a portal to new life, playing out across the cosmos in a great cycle. Image credit: Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope.

And here we are. If you’ve followed the rest of the work from Contrapunctus I, you’ve traveled a great ways from the initial counterpoint on the main AOF theme. With this fugue, Bach completes his epic cycle in most appropriate fashion. I won’t write too much about this fugue here, since I’ve already discussed it at length in the introductory page about the “unfinished fugue.” I’ll simply show the four subjects; if you’ve listened to all of AOF, it will be obvious enough where they appear.

You’ll hear Bach’s 239 measures, followed by the 111-bar completion of Zoltán Göncz that brings the fourth subject, the AOF theme, into its rightful place as the crown of the work.

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