6 March 2013

A treasure trove of Bach’s organ music

The Internet seems to foster a spirit of generosity. So many people offer products and services for free. I'm not talking about ‘free’ as in paid for by advertisements, or ‘free’ as in try a sample then pay for the real thing, or ‘free’ as in plagiarised. I mean ‘free’ as in donated by people who genuinely want to share their work with others without charge or conditions.

Think, for instance, of the many hours spent by countless volunteers to produce the free e-books at Project Gutenberg. Or think of the wide variety of podcasts and videos made available online with original content. Or what about the programmers who offer their software creations for free through hundreds of freeware sites.

Musicians especially seem to be a generous bunch. I recently came across a site offering recordings of every Bach organ work for listening online or free download. The works are played by Dr James Kibbie, Professor of Organ at the Michigan State University and an internationally renowned authority on Bach’s organ works. 

The pieces (270 in total) were recorded between 2007 and 2009 on original German baroque organs. You can listen online (left click), download a single piece (right click), or take a zipped file containing grouped pieces. The site has instructions on how to do this, or I’d be happy to help.

People either love or hate organ music, depending, I suspect, on their experiences while being in the places where organs are played. If you’re one of those who love it, here’s a sample: the allegro (3rd) movement from Sonata 1 in Es/Trio Sonata 1 in E flat major, BWV 525 played on the 1755 Gottfried Silbermann/Zacharias Hildebrandt organ, Kathedrale, Dresden, Germany (Photo above courtesy of Timo Sack, 2006)

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