The Orgelbüchlein Project is a major international composition project to complete the unfinished portion of J S Bach’s collection known as Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book). Leaving 118 gaps in his manuscript, Bach set out to provide a compendium of short organ chorale preludes covering the church year and other occasions. It is not known why he left it incomplete. This collaborative composition project is curated by the organist William Whitehead.
The task for composers is this: if Bach were alive today, how might he go about writing a chorale-based prelude? Some composers are modelling themselves closely on the terse functionality of Bach’s originals. Others are taking a wider inspiration from today’s techniques and styles, and responding to Bach in that way. Either way, the new pieces, each in their own fashion, recast the Affekts and techniques seen in Bach’s Orgelbüchlein preludes. The range of styles will encompass the whole gamut available to today’s composers; perhaps the only possible way for the Twenty-First Century to respond to Bach.
The eventual goal is publication and recording of the ‘complete’ Orgelbüchlein, a modern act of homage to Bach, containing 118 new pieces from beginner’s level to recital standard.
Video courtesy of London Film School