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 was
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
style in 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
Orgelbüchlein. 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,
four 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 church
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
I created this Transcription of the Choral Prelude (BWV
639) "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" (I call to you,
Lord Jesus Christ) for Oboe & Concert (Pedal) Harp.