The Orgelbüchlein ("Little Organ Book") BWV 599-644 is
a collection of 46 chorale preludes for organ written
by Johann Sebastian Bach. All but three of them were
composed during the period 1708–1717, while Bach
court organist at the ducal court in Weimar. The
remaining three, along with a short two-bar fragment,
were added in 1726 or later, after Bach's appointment
as cantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig.
The collection was originally planned as a set of 164
chorale preludes spanning the whole liturgical year.
The chorale preludes form the first of Bach's
masterpieces for organ with a mature compositional
marked contrast to his previous compositions for the
instrument. Although each of them takes a known
Lutheran chorale and adds a motivic accompaniment, Bach
explored a wide diversity of forms in the
Many of the chorale preludes are short and in four
parts, requiring only a single keyboard and pedal, with
an unadorned cantus firmus. Others involve two
keyboards and pedal: these include several canons,
ornamental four-part preludes, with elaborately
decorated chorale lines, and a single chorale prelude
in trio sonata form. The Orgelbüchlein has a four-fold
purpose: it is a collection of organ music for
services, a treatise on composition, a religious
statement, and an organ-playing manual.
In these chorale preludes, the traditional Lutheran
hymns are subjected to various types of polyphonic
treatment, with different types of countersubjects and
imitative devices. The two pieces chosen by Mr.
show two different compositional approaches: in the New
Year chorale In dir ist Friede ("In You is Peace"), the
melody is heard in close four-part imitation,
elaborating on the very first two measures of the tune
particular. The Easter hymn Christ ist erstanden
("Christ Has Risen"), by contrast, is given in three
variations; what is remarkable is that not only the
countersubjects change from one variation to the next
melody itself undergoes slight modifications. However,
the chorale melody doesn't wander from voice to voice
but stays in the treble all the way through.
This exuberant Easter chorale features a prominent
four-note motive in the pedal that says, in the boldest
possible way: Al - le - lu - ia!
Although originally created for Organ, I created this
Interpretation of Choral Prelude (BWV 630) "Heut
triumphieret Gottes Sohn" (Today the Son of God
triumphs) for French Horn & String Trio (Violin, Viola