Friday 29 July 2022

A contemporary take on Bach: his Orgelbüchlein, completed by contemporary composers, receives its UK premiere

Bach's title page to the Orgelbüchlein
Bach's title page to the Orgelbüchlein 

Bach began his Orgelbüchlein whilst he was organist at the ducal court of Weimar. The plan was for 164 chorale preludes covering the entire church's year, but Bach only completed 46 of them, yet he tantalised posterity by listing the titles of all 164 preludes. The Orgelbüchlein project has invited contemporary composers to complete the work. 

Over more than a decade, project director and organist William Whitehead has commissioned contemporary composers such as John Rutter, Judith Bingham, Sir Stephen Hough, Sally Beamish, Louis Andriessen, Daniel Kidane, Roxanna Panufnik and Nico Muhly to fill in these missing pieces and rise to the project’s central challenge: if Bach were alive today, how might he go about writing a short chorale prelude in the Orgelbüchlein style?  

The result is a new and complete Orgelbüchlein for the 21st century, a collection of 164 short chorale preludes containing a fascinating cross-section of contemporary European styles, together with newly edited versions of Bach’s original pieces: a grand homage to Bach, held together by the common thread of his original plan.

The completed Orgelbüchlein was first heard in Amsterdam in 2019 (at a nine-hour concert given by four organists). The work will be receiving its UK premiere in September at a group of concerts presented by the Royal College of Organists. On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September, nine concerts at Temple Church, St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, St. Andrew's Church, Holborn, St James Garlickhythe, St Paul's Cathedral, St George's Church, Hanover Square, Westminster Central Hall, St James's Palace Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey, the complete Orgelbüchlein will be presented.

Full details from the RCO website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts this month