Almost a Canon

Johann Joseph Fux (arranged by Haas)


Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741)

  1. Born at Hirtenfeld in Eastern Styria, Austria
  2. Aged 20 he became a student at the Jesuit university in Graz
  3. From 1685 until 1688 he served as organist at St. Moritz in Ingolstadt
  4. He visited Italy to study in Bologna
  5. By the 1690s he was organist at the Scottish Church in Vienna and in 1698 Court Composer to the Emperor
  6. In 1700 Fux studied in Rome, Italy.
  7. In 1701 he was back in Vienna as Capellmeister at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and later as Music Director at the Imperial Court – the highest musical position in Europe.


Fux was a composer from the BAROQUE AGE. In his prestigious court positions he composed and directed many operas and oratorios, as well as dozens of smaller pieces. His most famous stage work was the festival opera Costanza e Fortezza, performed in the most sumptuous and spectacular manner in Prague Castle in 1723 when the Emperor Charles VI was crowned King of Bohemia:

In 1725 Fux published his famous Gradus ad Parnassum (Steps to Mount Parnassus), the most celebrated textbook on counterpoint based on his musical studies from the  RENAISSANCE AGE. Generations of composers learnt their skill from this book including Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

With a canon, an initial melody is copied or imitated a little later at a different pitch. In  Almost a Canon the right hand is copied two beats later in the left hand. In the second line the left hand copies the right hand a bar later. But from bar 10 it is not really a canon and is more like a melody with accompaniment – although there is another short canonic phrase in bars 15-17.


This was originally written for the Harpsichord. Click PLAY to hear what it may have sounded like:

  • The Harpsichord cannot change dynamics so the music has been adapted for this piano exam with the addition of slurs and dynamics
  • The articulation is really important so follow this carefully and ensure the hands are balanced. The last note of each slurred group can also be played staccato. The canon (imitation) should sound like two equal instruments chasing each other:
  • Notice the little comma in bar 12 before a new section of music and a crescendo. You might like to slow up very slightly before this comma. This also means that the left hand will need to be cut a little shorter than marked here:
  • Follow the ritardando at the very end and make a tiny space before the last chord to make it sound more like the ending:
  • Here is the magnificent Hofburg Palace where Johann Fux worked as Music Director for the Emperor.  Try to capture the elegance of this building in your playing:
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