Since the early 18th century, fugue has been regarded as one of the great compositional forms. It requires skilful counterpoint allied to harmonic facility in order to create a satisfying whole from the fugues restrictive formal demands. Indeed, for many universities and conservatoires the writing of a fugue has long been regarded as the greatest test of contrapuntal and harmonic ability.
Even into the 20th century, the Paris Conservatoire locked students away individually with only a pen, paper and fugue subject for company in order to test their technical skill. Such revered status was not acquired overnight, however, and the roots of the fugue are to be found back in the 14th-century….
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