Franz Liszt (1811–86) wrote his Präludium und Fuge über das Thema B-A-C-H (title of the first version, forgotten today) for the inauguration on 27 September 1855 of the Merseburg Cathedral’s large organ, following its thorough overhaul by Friedrich Ladegast.
The autograph is no longer extant. Winterberger had made a copy of it, which, along with the registrations for the Merseburg performance, also contains
corrections by Liszt.
At the invitation of the Dutch organists Samuel de Lange Senior and Junior,
Winterberger gave three performances of the work in Rotterdam, Haarlem and Utrecht in summer 1856.
There are remarkably few articulation marks
(slurs, staccato signs) in the early edition. The second version adds such markings only very sporadically and unsystematically. In contrast to the original version, which was conceived for the organ in Merseburg,
The registration markings are missing in the
second version. Liszt thus leaves it up to the interpreter to mark up the work for a specific organ. He clearly takes his cue from the sparsely marked organ works of Bach, which he knew very well, partly through his own piano arrangements of the great preludes and fugues.