Although advanced level organists usually have much concert experience,
sometimes it is a challenge to find suitable organ repertoire for a recital.
Recital pieces should have a balance between fast and slow, loud and soft,
joyful and sad music. In this article, I will share with you an example of some
of the most exciting and famous pieces from the repertoire which you can use to program you next organ recital.
1) Prelude and Fugue in E flat Major, BWV 552 by Johann Sebastian Bach. An excellent opening for your recital. This is one of the most significant Preludes and Fugues Bach ever wrote. The prelude is in an advanced Ritornello form (following the Italian Concerto tradition) and the fugue is a superb example of Bach's complex structure of the fugue with 3 subjects.
2) Chorale prelude on "Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele", BWV 654 by Bach. Sweet and gentle chorale prelude, one of the most beloved Bach's compositions for many organists. Felix Mendelssohn was also fond of it. The beauty of the piece consists of highly ornamented chorale tune placed in the soprano voice with solo registration and slow rhythms in the style of Sarabanda.
3) Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 65 by Felix Mendelssohn. This famous sonata consists of two parts - the majestic and dramatic Con motto maestoso and gentle and slow Andante tranquillo. The 1st movement is based on Luther's chorale "Aus tiefer Noth schrei Ich zu Dir". The opening part in choral texture of this movement is repeated at the end. There is a double fugue on the above chorale tune in the middle of this movement.
4) Chorale No. 3 in A minor by Cesar Franck. This is one of the most famous and the last composition by Franck. It is a perfect example of the French symphonic writing - chromatic harmonies, dramatic textures and sweet melodies will be appreciated by every listener of your recital.
5) Andante sostenuto from the "Symphonie Gothique", Op. 70 by Charles-Marie Widor. This is one of the most beloved pieces by Widor. Slow tempo, gentle melodic lines, a fantastic accompaniment (in double sixths) and absolutely adorable harmonies make this piece a nice contrast with the previous composition on this list.
6) "Dieu parmi nous" from "Nativite du Seigneur" (Meditation No. 9) by Olivier Messiaen. This is one of the most popular pieces of this composer and a perfect choice to end your recital. It has everything you need to excite the listeners: complicated rhythms, spicy and colorful French modes and bright registrations.
Encore (optional): Toccata from the 5th Symphony by Widor. This toccata
requires no introduction. Play it if your recital goes well, of course, and if
your audience demands an encore.
The length of this program is around 60 minutes which is an optimum timing
for an organ recital. Use the above list of these exciting organ compositions
for your upcoming recitals. Get the sheet music and start practicing for it
By the way, do you want to learn my special powerful techniques which help me to master any piece of organ music up to 10 times faster? If so, download my FREE Organ Practice Guide.
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my systematic master course in Organ Sight-Reading.
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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.