Harpsichordist - Musicologist - Organist
St. John Passion
On March 17 I will direct a performance of Bach's St. John Passion, in the first version of 1724. I made a reconstruction of this version, the most significant feature of which is the absence of flutes. This allows for a much more chamber music-like approach, as befits the character of this master work. Like Bach did in 1724 I will direct this performance from the harpsichord. Tiel, Maartenskerk, 20.00. www.passiemuziektiel.nl
Bach's Fantasia and Fuga in G minor
A full-length article on this seminal organ work: background, forms, dating, performance, pairing. See the articles section for the abstract.
J.S. Bach, Complete Organ Works, Volume 3
The new critical edition of Bach's organ music (Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden), has now progressed to eight published volumes! The most recent one to appear is edited by me and contains the Fantasias and single Fugues (including the celebrated Fantasia & Fugue in G minor BWV 542). Everything has been freshly edited from the primary sources, the music engraving and lay-out meets the highest aesthetic and practical standards, while an easily accessible, compact Critical Commentary meets all the requirements of the discerning player. An extensive Introduction incorporates the latest Bach research and discusses aspects of background, chronology, transmission, authenticity and performance practice. Click here for further information.
Froberger at 400
In this Froberger year (he was born 400 years ago) I will be contributing the following in the fall:
Cornet Second Edition
Fifteen years ago, the Complete Keyboard Music by Peeter Cornet appeared, edited jointly by Jean Ferrard (Brussels) and me. This has been out of print for several years, but now a thoroughly revised second edition appeared. The Introduction (which forms a complete study of the life and work of Cornet) and the Bibliography have been thoroughly updated, and a number of errors in the musical text have been emended. Peeter Cornet (c.1575-1630) was organist in the Archducal chapel of Brussels. His surviving keyboard music consists of little more than a dozen pieces, which however are of a remarkably high quality and characterized by lively, improvisatory polyphony as well as great verve and spontaneity. Dominating here are seven mostly very extended fantasias which are equally at home on the organ or the harpsichord. Peeter Cornet seems to have been a real keyboard specialist, as no music in other genres survive; this edition thus at the same time constitutes an Opera Omnia. Click here for further information and reviews of the first edition.
Sweelinck: The Complete Keyboard Works
The "international" version of the Sweelinck Monument IV, on which I play twelve pieces on two original Rückers instruments (virginals and harpsichord) and on the organs in Alkmaar and Osteel, and provided the program notes.
Bach's Harpsichord Concerto no. 8 reconstructed
The premiere recording of my "reconstruction" of Bach's so-called Eighth Harpsichord Concerto in D minor ("BWV 1059") is there! In order to differentiate it from the famous "big" Harpsichord Concerto in the same key BWV 1052 one might dub it Bach's "small" D-minor-Concerto. It is strictly speaking not a reconstruction, as this version never really existed. Bach himself aborted a plan for a harpsichord version of this concerto, which was originally written for a melody instrument, after a mere nine bars (BWV 1059); he was no doubt dissatisfied with the path of too much elaboration shown there. In my version, which is based on the two Sinfonias of BWV 35, the middle movement of BWV 1056 as well as the fragment BWV 1059, I keep things more straightforward. However, the solo part in the fast movements is clearly in need of some enrichment, especially the left-hand line, in order to turn it into a somewhat convincingly Bachian harpsichord part. The recording can be found on the new Combattimento CD (tracks 29-31), which is available both in high-quality digital format
as well as a traditional CD. An edition of this gem of a concerto is in preparation.
C.P.E.Bach en het clavecimbel
A study (in Dutch) of the role of the harpsichord in the life and music of the second Bach son. See the articles section for the abstract.
Tunder Organ Works
Together with Vincent van Laar I recorded all of Tunder's organ pieces on the splendid Schnitger organ at Groningen Martini. Click here for further information.
Sweelinck Monument completed
With the publication of Part IV B, consisting of the second book devoted to the keyboard music with three CD's, the complete recording of Sweelinck's music has been brought to it's conclusion. Accordingly, a presentation and celebration was held in the Oude Kerk on 4 September. For all seven books I wrote the programme notes, and in addition contributed a variety of harpsichord and organ recordings as well as two additional articles to the last two volumes.
Das Wohltemperierte Clavier
In three concerts (23-25 May) I will perform Bach's non plus ultra, the two parts of his Well-tempered Clavier. See the website of Music Antiqua Nova Groningen. In the fall I will play the First Part in the Bachhaus Eisenach.
Orlando Gibbons's Keyboard Music
To the volume "Networks of Music and Culture in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries" (ed. David J. Smith and Rachelle Taylor), published by Ashgate and officially launched at the Horniman Museum in London on 11 March 2014, I contributed an article on the continental connections of Orlando Gibbons's keyboard music, more specifically its relationship with the music of Sweelinck and his school. See the articles section for the abstract.
A New Recording of Sweelinck's Keyboard Music
Het Sweelinck Monument IV A is published! It consists of the first half of Sweelinck's complete keyboard music, played by Bob van Asperen, Pieter-Jan Belder, Pieter van Dijk, Pieter Dirksen, Leo van Doeselaar, Reitze Smits, Harald Vogel en Bernard Winsemius, accompanied by an extensive program book. I contributed ten pieces (Toccatas C3, g4 and a2, Fantasias G2, G3 and a3, Allein zu dir, O Mensch bewein dein Sünde Gross (canon), Almande Gratie and Mein junges Leben hat ein End), performed on the 1511 Van Covelens organ at Alkmaar, the 1619 Evers organ at Osteel and the 1604 Ruckers virginal, as well two texts: detailed program notes for all 36 pieces recorded here, and a separate study of Mein junges Leben hat ein End. Click here for ordering information
A Bach Trio Sonata from the Weimar Period
Ten years ago the Bach-Jahrbuch published a study of mine on the prehistory of the Organ Sonata in E minor BWV 528 (see articles), which as a whole can be traced back to a Sonata for Oboe, Viola da gamba and Continuo from c1714. It thus forms one of the rare traces of chamber music before the Cöthen-Leipzig period. This edition offers a reconstruction of that work, offering (strictly based on the historical evidence) the possibilities to perform it with either oboe d'amore and viola da gamba (in E minor) or oboe and viola (in G minor). Click here for further information.
Scheidemann (and Selle) celebrated in Hamburg, 5-8 September
On the occasion of the 350th year of death of two important Hamburg composers, Heinrich Scheidemann (c.1595-1663) and Thomas Selle (1599-1663), a Festival is devoted to them in their own city. An international symposium studies their life and work as well as the background of the newly reconstructed organ in Hamburg St. Catharinen, where Scheidemann was organist all his life. And of course, in a number of concerts their music will sound. I have the honour to participate as an "artist in residence", giving a paper on Scheidemann, playing his music on both the (Catharinen) organ and the harpsichord as well as taking part in a complete performance of Johann Adam Reincken's Hortus Musicus (Reincken was Scheidemann's successor and son-in-law). Click here for full information
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's Organ Music
A dozen years ago I published a study in Dutch on the authorship of the Prelude and Fugue in F minor BWV 534, concluding that W.F. Bach was its most likely author. Here this ascription is freshly discussed within the context of all organ works which may or may not be by the eldest son.
See the articles section for the abstract.
After having commemmorated Sweelinck at 450 years in a harpsichord festival in May, I will continue this Fall to give recitals consisting mostly or solely of works by the master on both organ and harpsichord. The Sweelinck repertoire of these concerts consists of more than thirty pieces or about half his oeuvre.
From 31 August to 2 september a Symposium will be held which is dedicated to the memory of Gustav Leonhardt (1928-2012). I organised the second day, which is devoted to the North German repertoire of Bach's predecessors. Speakers will include Lars Berglund, Ulf Grapenthin, Michael Maul, Stephen Rose, Geoffrey Webber and Peter Wollny. My talk is devoted to authenticity questions in the keyboard music of Georg Böhm. 1 september 2012, Utrecht, Academiegebouw (Senaatszaal) . Click here for further information.
In Memoriam Gustav Leonhardt (1928-2012)
On January 16, 2012 Gustav Leonhardt died - an incomparably great musician and human. He was always a shining example and also a good friend. My harpsichord recital on January 21 (Heukelum, 20.00), where I will play three of Bach's Partita's, will be dedicated to his memory.
Samuel Scheidt's Manuscript Keyboard Music
It is already two decades ago that I published an article on Scheidt's keyboard music preserved solely in manuscript (Schütz-Jahrbuch), discussing matters of authenticity, transmission, style and chronology. The now finally realized edition (Breitkopf & Härtel) forms the obvious sequel to this early study. The preface offers a condensed and considerably updated version of the article, and the edition contains no less than 25 pieces: toccatas, fantasias, but above all variations - on chorale melodies, song tunes and dances. This corpus forms an attractive and on the whole somewhat nimbler appendix to the (often rather forbidding) music in the Tabulatura Nova. Click here for further information.
Vivaldi Bassoon Concerti vol. II
A second Vivaldi CD with La Suave Melodia appeared on the EtCetera label, again principally devoted to concerti with bassoon, played by the incomparable Amsterdam virtuoso on the baroque bassoon Frans Robert Berkhout. Other distinguished soloists featured here are Georgia Browne (flute), Franc Polman (violin) and Cassandra Luckhardt (violoncello). Click here for further information and [by November] some very favourable reviews!
Bach Harpsichord Recitals in May and June
In three recitals in Utrecht (Lutherse Kerk) I will play some of Bach's most beautiful harpsichord music: the Art of Fugue, Italian Concerto and Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue (1 May), the Goldberg Variations (22 May) and three Partitas, including the Sixth in E Minor (12 June). The Art of Fugue will be performed in the 'short' 12-movement Urfassung from 1742 which I revealed in my 1994 monograph on the work. In addition, I will give a Bach recital on 11 June in Tiel. See the Calendar for further details.
Johann Christoph Bach's Keyboard Music
A decade ago I published an edition of the four larger keyboard pieces by Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703). The accompanying article, which discusses in greater detail the transmission and authenticity of these and other keyboard music surviving from or attributable to this great-uncle of J.S. Bach, had to wait until last year to be finished and has now appeared in the 2010 issue of the Bach-Jahrbuch. See the articles section for the abstract.
J.S. Bach, Complete Organ Works, Volume 5
Together with Werner Breig and Reinmar Emans I am on the Editorial Board of a new critical edition of Bach's organ music, published by Breitkopf & Härtel (Wiesbaden). The first two out of ten scheduled volumes have appeared this month, one of which is edited by me. Volume 5 contains the Sonatas, Trios and Concerto Transcriptions. Everything has been freshly edited from the primary sources, the music engraving and lay-out meets the highest (practical) standards, while a compact Critical Commentary meets all the requirements of the discerning player. An extensive Introduction, which incorporates the latest Bach research, discusses aspects of background, chronology, transmission, authenticity and performance practice. Click here for further information.
From 19 to 24 October I will be touring in the Early Music Network with the Gesualdo Consort in an all-Sweelinck program. Inbetween vocal psalms and madrigals I will play several harpsichord pieces, including the celebrated Hexachord and Chromatic Fantasias. This week will also see the appearance of the last two volumes of the Sweelinck Monument, the complete recording of his vocal music by the Gesualdo Consort in six installments, for which I wrote a corresponding number of essays exploring the background of this wonderful music. For more information see the website of the Sweelinck Monument, and for dates and venues of the six concerts see my Calendar.
Goldberg Variations CD acclaimed!
"Diese Aufnahme gehört zu den musikalischen Ereignissen des Jahres."
De Geheimen van de Matthäus-Passion
Onder deze titel verscheen een bundel met 10 essays over de Matthäus-Passion, geschreven door een keur van binnen- en buitenlandse autoriteiten op het gebied van Bachs muziek, onder redactie van Pieter Dirksen. Het boek ontsluit een aantal 'geheimen' van de Matthäus-Passion: de ontstaansgeschiedenis, de tekst en de daarin besloten theologische achtergronden, de instrumentatie, de aria’s, de koralen, de (Nederlandse) receptiegeschiedenis en aspecten van de uitvoeringspraktijk. Verder bevat het boek een facsimile van de originele tekst van Picander. Voor verdere informatie klik hier.
Bach's Goldberg Variations
A double CD devoted to the most celebrated and perhaps also the most beautiful harpsichord work ever, played on my splendid double-manual Ruckers copy by Sebastiàn Nuñez. As a bonus I added the highly ingenious sequel to the Goldbergs, the Canonic Variations on 'Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her' BWV 769 for organ, recorded on the 1734 Hinsz organ of Leens. Click here for further information.
Martin Geck Festschrift
On the occasion of the 70th birthday of Martin Geck, a volume of Bach essays written by his friends and colleagues has been published. My article is devoted to the historical background of Bach's chorale partitas. See the articles section for the abstract.
Bach's Sonatas with Viola da Gamba
A CD which does not only include the three well known Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and obbligato Harpsichord (BWV 1027-1029), but also the world premiere of my reconstruction of the Sonata for Oboe (d'amore), Viola da Gamba and Continuo after BWV 528. In addition, this well-filled disc (nearly 78'!)includes another reconstruction - a chorale trio - for the same combination as well as Bach's only 'real' Harpsichord Sonata BWV 964. I am joined here by Cassandra Luckhardt (viola da gamba) and Alfredo Bernardini (oboe).
This month a staged version of Jean Baptiste Lully was succesfully premiered. I have the musical direction and play the harpsichord. We made a chamber version out of this sumptuous court spectacle, with just six singers and five instrumentalists. There are eight more performances throughout the Netherlands in February, March and April. For more information click here, for the playlist see my Calendar.
Bach's 'Mystery' Violin Concerto
An article on Bach's Violin Concerto in in G minor appeared. It tries to finally establish the exact nature, content and dating of this up till now rather elusive piece, which once must have stood on equal footing with the celebrated violin concertos in E major and A minor.
Scheidemanns Clavecimbelmuziek: 'Luister 10'
De kortgeleden verschenen CD met de clavecimbelwerken van Heinrich Scheidemann heeft in het Maandblad 'Luister' vijf sterren toegekend gekregen, gelijk aan wat tot voor kort als de 'Luister 10' gold.
Another CD which appeared on the EtCetera label, devoted to concerti by Vivaldi for or with solo bassoon, which is played by the Amsterdam virtuoso Frans Robert Berkhout. Other soloists featured are the flutist Georgia Browne, the violinist Rachael Beesley and the alto Clint van der Linde; the latter sings a Vivaldi cantata with a prominent bassoon part. La Suave Melodia is led by Pieter Dirksen. Click here for further information.
Heinrich Scheidemann's Harpsichord Music
A new CD containing the larger part of Scheidemann's harpsichord music, mostly consisting of first recordings (at least as played on harpsichord!). This part of his oeuvre has been much neglected, and this in contrast with the composer's organ music. In the 18 pieces recorded here Scheidemann demonstrates himself as a highly imaginative composer for the harpsichord and in every sense a worthy successor to his teacher Sweelinck. Click here for further information.
Bach's Leipzig Chorale Fughettas
An edition which for the first time brings together eight chorale fughettas for the Advent and Christmas period in their probable original order. These much maligned manualiter works, usually discarded as early pieces, on closer scrutiny reveal themselves as highly sophisticated and mature Leipzig compositions, which in all likelihood originated in the 1740s. The cycle also includes the New Year's Fughetta 'Das Jesulein soll doch mein Trost' BWV 702, a work hitherto considered as doubtful. Click here for further information.
Art of Fugue recording acclaimed
"Not only is this one of the very finest harpsichord recordings yet to have been issued, on any format at any time; it is the product of some of the very finest of Bach scholarship and reconstruction, mostly by the player himself. The result demands from me complete congratulation, and for once a confession of overwhelming conviction that, if this was not the most accurate route through which The Art of Fugue has come down to us, it must be an amazingly close guess as to its origins. If you love the final result, this is undoubtedly the performance to hear. Buy your copy now."
Lexikon der Orgel
Dieses grossangelegtes Lexikon, ediert von Hermann J. Busch und Matthias Geuting und erschienen beim Laaber-Verlag, enthält acht Personenartikel von meiner Hand: 'Johann Christoph Bach', 'John Bull', 'Girolamo Frescobaldi', 'Hieronymus, Jacob & Michael Praetorius', 'Heinrich Scheidemann' und ... 'Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck'.
The final volume of the Breitkopf Sweelinck edition appeared, which consists of the Fantasias. This 223-page volume contains in all 29 works, including five doubtful works. It contains many of Sweelinck's greatest masterpieces, such as the Fantasia Crommatica, the Hexachord Fantasia and the Fantasia contraria. The new editorial principles, which follows the barring, stemming and hand-division of the primary sources, does shed much new light on their interpretation. In an appendix I offer a fresh discussion of the instrument question of Sweelinck's keyboard oeuvre as a whole, demonstrating (I think) that Sweelinck made a clear differentiation between pieces for the organ or for the harpsichord. Click here for full information.
Deze maand is het driehonderd jaar geleden dat de grote Noordduitse componist Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) overleed. Ter gelegenheid daarvan geef ik vier concerten en een masterclass. Het "eigenlijke" herdenkingconcert op Buxtehudes sterfdag, 9 Mei, vindt plaats in Amsterdam. Hier klinken niet alleen de vier schitterende sonates met twee violen en viola da gamba en een met een viool en gamba, maar ook twee door mij herontdekte werken van de Lübeckse meester: de fraaie "Amsterdamse" Suite voor clavecimbel en een tot dusverre volkomen onbekende, schitterende koraalfantasie voor orgel. Het eerste exemplaar van de uitgave van deze koraalfantasie (Breitkopf & Härtel) zal op deze avond aan de heer Gustav Leonhardt worden overhandigd.
At last, my monograph on the organ an harpsichord music of Heinrich Scheidemann (c.1595-1663) has been published. It contains studies of the manuscripts with Scheidemann's music, a discussion by genre entailing observations on style, chronology and performance practice as well as separate chapters on Scheidemann's organ, his registration practice and fingering system. For further information, see the corresponding page in the Books & Editions section.
My by far largest contribution to the German music encyclopedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart appeared. Apart from a thorough reassessment of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's life and work it also includes the 'short' version of the new catalogue ('Werkverzeichnis") of Sweelinck's oeuvre.
Louis Couperin CD
In het tijdschrift Luister van October 2006 kreeg mijn CD Louis Couperin: Pièces d'Orgue, 1650-1659 de zeer hoge waardering 'Uitvoering 9 à 10'.
In the Dutch classical magazine Luister (October 2006) my CD Louis Couperin: Pièces d'Orgue, 1650-1659 was given the very high performance ranking '9 to 10' .
Two New Articles
This month two studies appeared, which can both be seen as descendants of the "Fantasia" chapter in my book on Sweelinck's keyboard music. The first one is on Samuel Scheidt's keyboard fantasias, a corpus heavily influenced by his teacher but also showing some sigificant conceptual differences. The other one tries to clear up the fog still surrounding the stylus phantasticus. Abstracts of these articles are now to be found on the articles page.
International Organ Courses
Pieter Dirksen will contribute with lessons, lectures and concerts to two international organ master classes, to be held in Smarano/Trentino (27-30 April) and in Leeuwarden (4-8 May, Organ Festival under the auspices of the Prins Claus Conservatorium, Groningen) respectively. For further information, see Smarano International Organ Academy and Orgelfestival.
Pieter Dirksen has become member of the Wissenchaftliches Gremium (scientific committee) of the Bach-Jahrbuch.
Louis Couperin: Pièces d'Orgue
A CD has been released (Toccata TRR 99012) recorded on the c.1650 Severijn organ in Cuijk (the website on this organ and its concerts has been renewed). Louis Couperin's organ music though rediscovered already in the 1950s, became available only a few years ago. As I argue in the booklet, the splendid Cuijk organ must be considered the instrument which at present is the one which most closely approaches Couperin's instrument in Paris St. Gervais. The CD contains a selection of 26 pieces.
A New Edition of Johann Adam Reincken's Organ Music
Just published by Breitkopf & Härtel is my new edition of Reincken's chorale fantasias for organ and toccatas for harpsichord (which are also playable on the organ). Jan Adamsz Reincken (1643-1722), who was born in Deventer from German parents, was the pupil, son-in-law and successor of Heinrich Scheidemann at the Hamburg Catharinenkirche. One of the most famous organists and improvisers of his day, he was a close friend of Dietrich Buxtehude and much admired by the young Johann Sebastian Bach but left regrettably little organ music.
Sacred Dialogues in Maastricht
In the Musica Sacra Festival held in Maastricht Pieter will lead a project with four vocalists and the ensemble La Suave Melodia devoted to sacred dialogues from the seventeenth century featuring the Angels and Devils of the Festival’s main theme. Besides works by Matthias Weckmann and the Dutchman Benedictus a Sancte Josepho the program includes an unedited dialogue by the remarkable Italian composer Alessandro della Ciaia: Michaelis victoria et Luciferi casus.
Engelen en Duivels in Maastricht
In het Festival Musica Sacra Maastricht zal Pieter een project leiden met vier vocalisten en het ensemble La Suave Melodia. Het programma is gewijd aan geestelijke dialogen uit de zeventiende eeuw bevolkt door de Engelen en Duivels die het hoofdthema van dit Festival vormen. Naast stukken van Matthias Weckmann en Benedictus a Sancte Josepho bevat het programma het onuitgegeven Michaelis victoria et Luciferi casus van de hand van een bijzondere Italiaanse componist, Alessandro della Ciaia.
Zondag 18 september 2005 - Maastricht, Kapel Zusters onder de bogen, 14.30 uur
"De organist Pieter Dirksen leidde een van de beste Nederlandse Ensembles, La Suave Melodia, tijdens een prachtig concert waarin de bas Donald Bentvelsen het won van andere Lucifers in het festival in de dialoog [Ruina Luciferi van] Benedictus a Sancte Josepho. (De Volkskrant, 19 september 2005)
A 'new' organ in Wadenoijen
The restoration of the organ in the church of my home village, Wadenoijen, is completed! It concerns an organ which goes back to c.1630 (Antonie Verbeeck) and which survived in its rebuilt state of 1808 (Albert van Gruisen). The restoration was carried out by the organ maker Albert de Graaf.
Een 'nieuw' orgel in de Hervormde kerk van Wadenoijen
Ten tijde van de in 2004 voltooide restauratie van de monumentale kerk van Wadenoijen werd gezocht naar een geschikt (historisch) orgel voor deze kerk. De keus viel op een instrument dat eigendom was van orgelbouwer Albert de Graaf (Leusden/Zwolle). Het betreft hier een orgel met zeventiende-eeuwse front- en kastdelen en een grote hoeveelheid pijpwerk uit die tijd. Dit pijpwerk blijkt van de hand van Antonie Verbeeck (c.1585-c.1642). Deze, uit het zuiden van het land afkomstige orgelmaker, vestigde zich in 1617 te Leeuwarden en vertrok na enkele jaren naar Groningen. Wanneer dit instrument precies gebouwd is en voor welke kerk is onbekend. Volgens een niet te verifiëren mededeling stond het orgel oorspronkelijk in de Hervormde Kerk van Brantgum (Friesland), waarna het in de tweede helft van de achttiende eeuw in de Rooms-Katholieke Schuilkerk van Dokkum zou zijn beland. De huidige vorm kreeg het orgel daar in 1808, na een ingrijpende verbouwing door de Leeuwardense orgelmaker Albert van Gruisen (1741-1824). In 1873 plaatste de orgelbouwer Ypma het in de nieuwe, door Cuypers gebouwde Rooms-Katholieke kerk te Dokkum; bij deze gelegenheid kreeg het zijkantbespeling. In 1883 werd het orgel vervangen door een instrument van Lambertus van Dam en verkocht aan G. Wüst, die het doorverkocht aan de Christelijk Gereformeerde Gemeente van Enumatil (West-Groningen). In 1923 verhuisde het instrument opnieuw, nu naar de Gereformeerde Kerk van Boerakker. Hier werd in 1930 een nieuwe kerk gebouwd, waarbij de overplaatsing van het orgel verzorgd werd door de Fa. Leemhuis & Holtman (Zuidbroek).