Because Advent starts this Sunday and Christmas season is fast approaching, today I would like to give you a list of 10 possible Bach organ pieces to play at this festive time of the year.
1. Nun komm’ den Heiden Heiland, BWV 659. This chorale prelude was especially valued by Felix Mendelssohn. It has a highly ornamented melody in soprano of unprecedented beauty. The texture is in four parts. Medium.
2. Gott, durch deine Güte, BWV 600 from Orgelbüchlein. This is a canonic chorale – the canon happens in soprano and tenor (played by the pedals). The alto voice moves in eighth notes while the bass plays quarter notes. Medium.
3. Herr Christ, der einge Gottes-Sohn, BWV 601 from Orgelbüchlein. The texture is in four parts. Here the tune is given to the soprano voice. The piece is build around the suspirans motive which is imitated in the three lower parts. Medium.
4. Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her, BWV 606 from Orgelbüchlein. In this chorale prelude the tune is given to the soprano. The two middle voices feature sixteenths and the bass has eighths. Medium.
5. Nun komm’ den Heiden Heiland, BWV 599 from Orgelbüchlein. This is the opening piece from this collection. The arpeggiated texture reminds of the harpsichord pieces by Couperin. Medium.
6. Puer natus in Bethlehem, BWV 603 from Orgelbüchlein. It has a flowing 3/2 meter, four part texture with the tune in soprano voice. Medium.
7. Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich, BWV 605 from Orgelbüchlein. This piece is written for two manuals and a pedal. The accompanying alto and tenor voices create a joyful rhythmical figure involving two thirtyseconds and sixteenths. Medium.
8. In dulci jubilo BWV 608, from Orgelbüchlein. This piece is based on the 14th century Macaronic Latin/German Christmas carol. This composition is a great example of Bach's contrapuntal writing - it is a double canonic chorale prelude (the soprano tune is imitated by the bass and the triplet figures appear in alto and tenor. Medium.
9. In dir ist Freude BWV 615, from Orgelbüchlein. This is the only piece from this collection which features the tune in fragmentation. It has a joyful character, fast tempo, and will not be too easy to play. However, once you master it, you and your listeners will surely enjoy it. Difficult.
10. Chorale prelude "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme", BWV 645. This is the opening piece from the collection of 6 chorale preludes which became known as the Schubler chorales. The piece is written in a trio texture, with the chorale tune in the tenor voice. Medium.
By the way, if you like chorale prelude "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme", BWV 645 by Bach , check out my brand new BWV 645 Home Study Course in which I will teach you how to master this piece in 17 days or less while practicing only about 30 minutes a day!
To your success in Bach organ playing,
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.