Completing Bach's plan
Patrons: Paul McCreesh, Andrew Prior, The Revd Donald Reeves MBE, Dame Gillian Weir
Academic Advisor: John Scott Whiteley

Composition Rules

The aim of the Project is to encourage contributions of many different styles, from pastiche Bach through to individual, contemporary, creative responses to the chorale melody. The range of compositional style will be correspondingly large and the Project is non-partisan in its consideration of style. The Project operates in a twofold manner; a gamut of international composers will be commissioned by the Project, and their contributions listed in the ‘Commissioned Chorales’ section. These will form a survey of compositional styles from the start of the Twenty-First Century, featuring  some of the most significant and individual voices at work today. Contributions may also be submitted by anyone to the ‘Orgelbüchlein Community’ section, a forum for sharing compositions freely. The ‘Orgelbüchlein Project’ now being published by Peters Edition in 6 volumes will draw compositions principally from the Commissioned Chorales, but will not exclude compositions from the Orgelbüchlein Community. An online publication of selected chorales will follow, giving alternative and more extended settings.

The only stipulations are that the composition must:

  • approximate to the scale of Bach’s, ie no longer than 5 minutes, and averaging 2 minutes
  • be for solo organ with pedals
  • use the given melody structurally

NB The new compositions which most closely reflect the density of technique and Affect in Orgelbüchlein are those in which the chorale melody has been given a “once-through” rather than multiple hearings or fantasia-like musings. Bach uses three types of chorale paraphrase (‘melody-type’, ornamented, canon). These may work well in a contemporary context, but additional and more modern methods of presenting and/or manipulating the melody could also be interesting.

In partnership with the European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom


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