Music has both intellectual and emotional dimensions, balanced in different ways in different pieces. And if you ask classical-music lovers to name the musical form in which the intellectual predominates, chances are they’ll point to the fugue. What exactly is a fugue? A fugue is a work with multiple independent voices—musical lines—that are equally important (unlike, say, a hymn tune where the main melody predominates). More specifically, it features a musical motive (a melodic figure) known as the “subject.” The subject is usually first heard by itself, then other voices enter with the same motive one-by-one in imitation, after which it is varied and interspersed with other material, producing a complex musical web that demands tremendous intellectual energy. Yet while fugues are inherently intellectual, they can have tremendous emotional impact, too—as the opening and closing works on this concert make clear.

BEETHOVEN: Grosse Fuge, op.133

HIGDON: Oboe Concerto

DELIUS: Irmelin: Prelude

MOZART: Symphony No.41, K.551, C major (Jupiter)