John Collins - Organist, Harpsichordist Iberian Musicologist, Translator


In 2015 there are several composers whose anniversaries can be commemorated, albeit some of the dates are not known for certain; some of the names need no introduction but there are also several lesser-known names listed here whose compositions are well worth exploring. No claim is made for completion and there is no guarantee that every edition is in print – there may well also be editions by other publishers.

Jacques Buus ca 1500-65 probably born in Ghent, became second organist at St. Mark’s, Venice, in 1541, but moved to Vienna in 1550, where he became court organist. His publications include Motets, Canzone and two books of Ricercars. Two volumes of his organ works have been edited by Thomas Schlee for Universal Edition, vol 1 is the Intabolatura D’Organo of 1549 which contains four Ricercars, vol 2 is an intabulated version of the first book of Ricercars of 1547 which contains ten exceptionally lengthy pieces.

Christopher Gibbons 1615-76 Eldest surviving son of Orlando Gibbons, he was organist of the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey; only a few compositions for keyboard survive in various MSS, comprising 2 short pieces (Corrente and Saraband) for harpsichord, 4 Verses or Voluntaries and 3 Verses or Double Voluntaries ie requiring two manuals for their execution, with passages for solos on Cornet, Sesquialtera and Trumpet, although some versions of these Double Voluntaries seem to have been considerably amended and elongated by the scribe. All nine pieces have been re-edited by John Caldwell for American Institute of Musicology Early Keyboard Music series CEKM18.

Spiridionis a Monte Carmelo 1615-85 German organist, who travelled widely in Belgium, Germany and Prague before taking a position in Bamberg in 1664. He composed sacred music and also published a keyboard tutor entitled Nova instructio pro pulsandis organis, spinettis, manuchordiis in two volumes in Bamberg, of which the first part, which appeared in 1670, contained a very large number of Cadences, 35 Canzone and 15 Dances including Corrente, and the second part, which appeared the following year, contains mainly Cadenzas, as well as 10 Canzonettas, seven Toccatinas, two Gagliardas and four Corrente. Part three contains more formulae for cadentiae followed by ligaturae and trilli, Part four contains the actuarium for parts one and two, an aria, allemanda, sarabanda and modus variandi. A modern edition by Edoardo Bellotti of parts one and two has been published by Andromeda. Parts three and four have also been edited by Bellotti and published by Il Levante, obtainable via la Stanza della Musica, Rome.

Gregorio Strozzi- ca 1615-after 1687 Organist in Naples, and doctor in both civil and canon law, in addition to sacred works he left a Capricci da Sonare cembali et organi published in open score in Naples in 1687, which is indebted to Trabaci, Mayone and Frescobaldi, its 31 pieces covering the main compositional genres of the time including three Capriccios, three Ricercatas, three Sonatas, four Toccatas, two Balletti, three Gagliardas, three sets of variations, eight Correntes, a Mascara and a Toccata de passacagli. This important print has been re-edited by Barton Hudson for American Institute of Musicology in the Corpus of Early Keyboard Music series CEKM 11.

Heinrich Bach 1615-92 Great uncle of Johann Sebastian and organist in Arnstadt, almost all of his compositions in various genres have unfortunately been lost. He was the father of Johann Christoph and Johann Michael Bach, who also became composers. For keyboard he left a Chaconne in A, edited by Laura Cerutti for Armelin, and two chorale preludes, on Erbarm dich mein and Da Jesu an dem Kreuze stund, are included in Organ Works by the Bach family edited by Diethard Hellmann for Edition Peters.

Tarqinio Merula ca. 1594-1665 Organist and violinist active mainly in Cremona, he published a number of sacred concertos, mass and psalm settings as well as madrigals and ensemble canzonas. Fourteen keyboard works have survived in MSS, including a chromatic Capriccio and Sonata, the former based on the chromatic tetrachord, the latter on a figure covering a major ninth by semitone (!) although many subsequent entries are limited to the tetrachord, three Intonazione Cromatiche which may well be incorrectly attributed, a Toccata which contains a fugal section sandwiched between sections akin to Merulo’s Toccatas but lacking his inventiveness, a Capriccio with an insistent rhythmic figure and much sequential writing, and five Canzone, of which the first, an arrangement of his ensemble piece La Loda, has basic similarities to the Capriccio and the second is based on an intriguing sequence of four descending broken triads. The next three Canzone have been attributed tentatively to Merula, no. 3 being a version oh his ensemble Canzona La Marca. All of these pieces together with a Cromatica by Soncino, a Canzona by Fasolo pieces have been edited by Alan Curtis and published by L’Organo, Brescia as Monumenti di Musica Italiana Series 1, Organo e Cembalo, vol. 1, which is available from Armelin. There is also a reprint by Kalmus which lacks the introduction.

Wolfgang Ebner 1612-1665 Organist of St. Stephen’s cathedral, Vienna, and court organist, contemporary with Froberger. Three works certainly by him include three toccatas, a courante, a capriccio sopra L’aria Pergamasco, the Partite sopra l’Aria Favorita with seven variations, and the 36 variations divided into three groups of 12 (the second and third groups being in the form of a courante and sarabande) on an Aria in A minor composed by Ferdinand III. Works of uncertain authenticity include 56 versets encompassing various forms ie toccata, capriccio, fugue, in the eight church modes (eight of which are variants of pieces by Froberger, and one by Frescobaldi), two preludes, a partita in A and eight individual dance movements. Published by Bärenreiter in 2 volumes edited by Siegbert Rampe, that also include keyboard works by Georg Muffat.

Nikolaus Bruhns 1665-97 Pupil of Buxtehude, he became organist in Husum in 1689. Comparatively well known to players today, particularly for his preludes in E minor, Bruhns was also a highly skilled violinist who, according to undoubtedly reliable contemporary accounts, accompanied his violin playing at the organ by a bass played with great dexterity on the pedals. None of his organ works were printed in his lifetime and no autograph MSS have survived, but his small opus survived in a virtually unbroken transmission in both MSS of the 18th century and printed editions from the 19th through to the 20th century. He wrote chamber music, which regrettably has not survived, and 12 cantatas, and left four brilliant Praeludia for organ in MSS; multi-sectional, and clearly showing the influence of his teacher as well as echo devices. A highly ornamented Chorale Fantasia on Nun komm der Heiden Heiland also shows continuation of the N. German tradition of Scheidemann, Reincken and Tunder. Modern editions, which also include an Adagio and a Praeludium, of which only fragments survive, have been prepared by Klaus Beckmann, published by Schott in the series Masters of the North German School vol. 13, and also edited by Harald Vogel for Breitkopf & Hartel.

Johann Hanff 1665-1712 Organist in Hamburg and Schleswig, only three cantatas and six chorale preludes survive in MSS. Five of the preludes are in a similar style to Buxtehude’s, with highly ornamented melodies in the rh, but in Erbarm dich mein two verses are set, the second verse opening with a fugue based on the descending chromatic fourth before reverting to rh solo of the ornamented melody. They have been edited by Ewald Kooiman for Harmonia Uitgave, Incognita Organo Part 7.

Johann Fischer ca 1665-1746 Kapellmeister to Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden, he published chamber and vocal music, and for keyboard four sets of pieces, comprising two sets of suites for harpsichord/clavichord in 1696 and 1738 which show the French influence, and two sets of pieces for the organ which show a more Italianate influence, including Musikalischer Blumenstrauss of 1732, a collection of pieces on the eight Tones comprising a Praeludium, six Fugues and Finale for each Tone, and Ariadne Musica of 1702 and 1715, containing 20 short Preludes and Fugues, each in a different key including B, E♭ and A♭ major, B, F♯ and C♯ minor, which were known to J.S.Bach who used some of the subjects in his WTC, and five Ricercars on hymns for Advent, Christmas, Quadragesima, Passiontide and Easter. The complete keyboard music has been edited by Ernst von Werra for Breitopf and Hartel. The Ariadne has been edited by Ernst Kaller for Schott as Liber Organi vol. 7 and the Musikalischer Blumenstrauss by Rudolph Walter for Musikverlag Alfred Coppenrath, Altötting as Süddeutsche Orgelmeister des Barock vol.1 available through Carus Verlag. Facsimile editions have been published by Broude Bros in the Performers’ Facsimiles series nos. 197 (Ariadne) and 199 Musikalischer Blumenstrauss.

Johann Molter 1696-1765 German organist in Eisenach and Karlsruhe whose comprehensive works embrace all genres. Six chorale arrangements have been edited by Siegbert Rampe for Bärenreiter in “German organ and keyboard music from Bach’s period”.

Georg Wagenseil 1715-77 Organist and composer to the court in Vienna, he composed operas, chamber music, concerti, organ and harpsichord music. Although considered as one of the most important Viennese composers of the 18th century, very few of his many keyboard works have been published, and conspicuous by their absence are the organ works, including 97 Versets in various Tones, a cycle of Praeambula and Versets on the Eight Tones and numerous other individual pieces. Five pieces have been edited by Erich Benedikt and included in “Viennese Organ Music from around 1750” published by Doblinger as DM1335 in the Diletto Musicale series, including a Praeludium on the 1st and on the 2nd Tones, a Fuga in D minor, a piece entitled Das Glockengeläut zu Rom dem Vatican in C minor, and an Andante in D minor taken from the 3rd Divertimento of opus 1, better perhaps suited to stringed keyboard instruments.

James Nares 1715-83 Became organist of York Minster in 1735, and in addition to much sacred music including Services, and secular vocal music he left several publications for keyboard including 2 sets of Lessons for harpsichord and a set of 6 Fuges with Introductory Voluntary’s for organ or harpsichord, which is available in a modern edition by Greg Lewin as well as in facsimile from Oxford University Press. Only nos. 1, 3 and 5 are preceded by an introduction. Also available in facsimile from Oxford University Press is Il Principio, or A Regular Introduction to Playing on the harpsichord or Organ, which gives basic information on ornamentation and fingering followed by a graduated a series of pieces.

Georg Reichardt 1715-89 Pupil of Jaob Adlung. His Sechs fugierte Orgeltrios have been edited by Rudolph Walter for Hänssler Verlag and are available from Carus Verlag.

Charles-Joseph van Helmont 1715-90 Organist in Brussels, he composed a large quantity of sacred vocal music including masses and motets, and a much smaller amount of secular vocal music. His keyboard works comprise the Pièces de clavecin of 1737 which includes two suites, the pieces of which have French titles. The first suite, and four Fugues, have been edited by J. Watelet and published by Vereniging voor Muziekgeschiedenis te Antwerpen 1948 as Monmenta Musicae Belgicae vol 6 (also contains pieces by Dieudonne Raick), with the second set edited by Laura Cerutti for Armelin, with a facsimile edition published by Anne Fuzeau. The complete set of Six Fugues has been edited by Jan Vanmol for Calcant.

Johann Doles 1715-97 Pupil of Bach in Leipzig, where he became Kantor, he composed much sacred and secular vocal music, harpsichord sonatas and some chorale preludes, of which four pieces from the 5th volume of Singbare und leichte Choralvorspiele has been edited by Eberhard Hofmann for Musica Rinata in Orgelpräludien vom Barock zur Klassik.

John Alcock snr 1715-1806 Organist at Lichfield cathedral from 1750-65, and thereafter at Sutton Coldfield and Tamworth, he composed sacred choral music, numerous secular vocal works, Six Suites of Easy lessons and a Trumpet Tune for the harpsichord, which has been edited by Richard Jones and published by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, as Easier Piano Pieces vol 15, and a set of Ten Voluntaries for the organ or harpsichord, a new edition of which has been edited and published by Greg Lewin.

Carlmann Kolb 1703-65 Organist of the community of Asbach, and priest, he left a Sinfonia for harpsichord and strings and the Certamen aonium published in 1733, a set of pieces on the eight Tones, including a fairly expansive Prelude, 3 fugal Verses in a variety of styles and metres and a toccata-like Cadenza. Some of the preludes, particularly the third, are almost extravagantly eccentric in their modulations and dramatic rests. Modern editions by Rudolf Walter for Musikverlag Alfred Coppenrath, Altötting as Süddeutsche Orgelmeister des Barock vol. 5, available through Carus Verlag, and by Gregor Klaus for Willy Müller Süddeutscher Musikverlag, available from Bärenreiter.

Jose Ferrer 1745-1815 Organist in various Spanish cathedrals, including Oviedo, he composed mainly secular and chamber music, seven sonatas for keyboard by him are preserved in a MS now in Zaragoza, and a further six have been attributed to him on stylistic grounds, although as no. 8 is by Domenico Scarlatti it may well be that further pieces are by other composers. Many of the sonatas are far better suited to stringed keyboard instruments but mos. 9-11 sound well on the organ. All 13 sonatas have been edited as Sonatas para Clave by Dionisio Preciado and published by Real Musical, Madrid as Teclado Espanol Siglo XVIII Vol. 1. No. 2 in G minor and a further Sonata in C minor, both taken from MS 1665 at Montserrat, are included in Early Spanish Keyboard Music vol 3 edited by Barry Ife and Roy Truby for Oxford University Press.

Pietro Morandi 1745-1815 After studying with Padre Martini in Bologna he worked in Pergola and Senigallia cathedrals. He composed sacred and secular vocal and dramatic music, and also left 12 Concerti per L’Organo solo, with instructions for registration, and 20 Sonatas and Sinfonias, all of which have been edited in four volumes by Maurizio Machella for Armelin.

Giuseppe Gherardeschi 1759-1815 Organist in Pistoia, firstly of S. Maria dell Umiltà and then the cathedral, he composed much sacred vocal music and several sonatas for harpsichord or forte piano plus violin and also concerti. His numerous organ compositions, which include Versetti, Ofertorios, Elevazione, Sonatas and Rondos, contain precise instructions for registration, including drum pedals and toy stops such as the Uccello. Many have been edited by Umberto Pineschi in Musiche pistoiesi per organo (Biblioteca Classica dell’Organista vol M05 and M06), Antologia del Settecento organistico pistoiese (Biblioteca Classica dell’Organista vol 19), Musiche d'organo a Pistoia (Biblioteca Classica dell’Organista vol 30); Letteraturo organistica toscana dal XVII al XIX secolo (Accademia di musica italiana per organo, Pistoia). Some 20 pieces have been edited by Maurizio Machella in two Volumes for Armelin as L’organo Italiano nell’Ottocento OIO222 and 223. An official download of Gherardeschi’s complete organ works, together with many other pieces from the Pistoia cathedral archives, is available from for a payment of 10 Euros.

Domenico Puccini 1772-1815 Organist in Lucca, and grandfather of the famous opera composer, he composed both sacred and secular vocal music, as well as operas. He left 42 one-movement Sonatas for organ in MSS, which have been edited in four volumes by Maurizio Machella for Armelin. A further volume contains sonatas for violin with accompaniment for organ or forte piano.

An increasing number of pieces, ranging from complete original publications/mss (which present the usual problems of multiple clefs as well as original printer’s errors) to modern versions of complete or individual works, are to be found on various free download sites, most noticeably IMSLP; however, the accuracy of some modern typesettings is highly questionable, and all should be treated with caution before use.

Carus Verlag
American Institute of Musicology – CEKM seriesCorpusmusicae
Greg Lewin Music
Musica Rinata
Monumenta Musicae Belgicae
Broude Bros
Associated Board
Doblinger Verlag

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© John Collins 2015