Deducing the Original Sounds of Bach's Organ Works

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Johann Sebastian Bach likely made considerable use of the imitative nature of organ sounds when selecting registrations at the organ. A study of Bach’s written evaluations of various organs and the specifications of organs with which he was familiar enables a general assessment of his expectations regarding organ construction and capabilities. The few registration examples attributable to Bach are considered in the light of documented registration practices of some of his contemporaries and in the context of other relevant constraints and influences of the time. We explore the possibilities for using this accumulated knowledge from Bach’s day to aid in the application of the imitative quality of organ sounds to the modern interpretation of Bach’s organ works.


“Dr. Elaine Dykstra, in a fresh new look at Johann Sebastian Bach, has studied the great man in a variety of ways through a great deal of research. These writings take a healthy look at the great master and the organ registrations he might have used. ... Dr. Dykstra takes us on a tour through the organs, the music, and the Bach era environment, and helps us take a new look at Bach the man, and what he might have done with the organs at his disposal. ... These writings of Dr. Dykstra should be required study for all students of this great master to assist them in understanding him. Dr. Dykstra has done an outstanding job giving all of us a wonderful insight into the greatest of greats in organ music composition and playing.” - Dr. Pieter Visser, Adjunct Lecturer of Organ, Shepherd School of Music, Rice University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Pieter Visser
1 Johann Sebastian Bach, Tester of Organs
2 Principal Types of Organs Played by Bach
3 The General Nature of Organ Stops
4 Registrations Indicated by Bach in Association with Forms
5 Registrations from Bach’s Contemporaries
Appendix A: Table of Organ Stops Known to Bach
Appendix B: Organs Played, Examined or Heard by Bach
Index of Organs and Stops from Appendices

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