A Brass Band Advent Calendar: 26. Toccata in D Minor

SECOND ENCORE: J.S. Bach’s seminal organ tune, in brass band form

For the final door on this year’s East of the M60 Advent Calendar, we have decided to give you a right corker of a piece. Originally written for organ, this tune by Johann Sebastian Bach is one of his best known works.

We are referring to Toccata in D Minor. Or Toccata and Fugue, sometimes plain old Toccata. This piece isn’t only associated with horror themes. It was also the subject of two very different cover versions during the 1980s and 1990s.

At one end of the scale was The Toy Dolls’ cover with heavy guitar thrash. At the other end – and undoubtedly far better known – was Sky’s arrangement in 1980. The latter group, featuring John Williams, Francis Monkman, Kevin Peek and Tristan Fry, got a Top Ten hit single out of it (from their LP Sky 2).

Neither of them could hold a candle to Black Dyke Band’s performance. The original organ arrangement is great; both Sky and The Toy Dolls put in a great shift with their cover versions. If you want power and dynamics of the highest order, a fantastic brass band version will never let you down. This clip is living proof.

That’s it for another year…

We hope you have enjoyed this year’s Advent Calendar and hope this has left you yearning for more brass band action. As to what East of the M60’s 2019 Advent Calendar will be based on, we shall tell you in November ’19.

Before we go, next year’s concerts at Boarshurst Band Club will resume on the 20 January 2019 starting with Westoe Colliery Band (7pm start). Therefore, the first Sunday Brass review will be on East of the M60 by the following Monday.


  • Executive Producer: Stuart Vallantine;
  • Assistant Editor: Sammy Vallantine (“About time you remembered me… You never mention me in your blog posts… WOOF!” – Sammy);
  • Official Transport Partners: First Greater Manchester/Stott’s Tours/Stagecoach Manchester/First Choice County Cars/MCT Travel;
  • Soft Drinks: Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea;
  • Norway Plus Drinks: Dark Woods Coffee Americanos;
  • Chequers Deal Drinks: Moorhouse’s Black Cat Mild/Donkeystone Brewing Co.’s Cotton Clouds Ale;
  • Hard Drinks: Laphroaig single malt whisky;
  • No Deal/WTO Deal Drinks: Chew Reservoir tap water.

The 2018 East of the M60 Brass Band Calendar was also made possible by countless trips to Boarshurst Band Club, other brass band concert venues within TfGM boundaries, and copious YouTube searches. Here’s to 2019 and another selection of brass band concerts.

S.V., 26 December 2018.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s