Harald Vogel

Harald Vogel (b. 1941) is recognized as a leading authority on the performance of North German organ music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. He is Director of the North German Organ Academy: an institution which he founded in 1972 with the intention of furthering the cause of historical playing techniques and performance practice on original instruments.

As Superintendent of Church Music and Organ Advisor for the Reformed Church in North-West Germany, he is responsible for a portion of North Germany's Historical organs. Harald Vogel is Professor of Organ at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen and teaches at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover. His extensive career as concert artist and teacher in Europe, the United States, and Japan spans over three decades. Of his many recordings, those made between 1961 and 1975 for Radio Bremen rank among the most important sound documents of their kind. In 1981, Vogel founded the Dollart Festival: the first binational Early Music festival in Europe.

The Program

“Germany's Golden Age”

17th Century Masterworks for Organ and Harpsichord


Johann Caspar Kerll (1627-1693)

Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)


Dietrich Buxtehude

Georg Böhm (1661- 1733)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)


Johann Sebastian Bach

Program Notes

Notes by Harald Vogel

The first part of the program consists of works by Johann Caspar Kerll, the most influential organist in the German-speaking countries in the middle of the l7th century. Kerll served as organist at the imperial court in Vienna and had many pupils, among them Johann Pachelbel. His "Toccata per li Pedali" was used as a praeludium-model for the service playing in South Germany and Austria until the end of the l8th century. The "Canzona" was well known in North Germany and has been used as a model for a virtuosic pedal composition by Peter Heydorn, a contemporary of Dietrich Buxtehude. The "Capriccio Cucu" belongs to the many examples of program music written in Vienna in the second half of the 17th century.

Dietrich Buxtehude's "Praeludium" in e-minor (BuxWV 143) belongs to the compositions where he made use of the possibilities of the large North German organ with many manual divisions and an independent pedal. In the second part of the opening section Buxtehude used a multiple choir texture with many manual changes. The "Praeludium" in g-minor (manualiter) on the other hand is written in a true harpsichord style. The model of Froberger's toccatas is obvious in many places.

Many elements of Buxtehude's harpsichord style appear in the famous "Toccata" in e-minor by J.S. Bach. The elements of the North German harpsichord repertoire are to be found in many early compositions by Bach. Particularly influential on Bach was Georg Boehm, who used to be the organist in the Johanniskirche in Lueneburg at the same time, when Bach lived as a choirboy of the Michaeliskirche in the same North German town (near Hamburg).

The last section of the program consists of two well-known organ compositions of Bach:

The chorale-prelude "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" belongs to the most expressive compositions with an ornamented melody.

The "Toccata" in F-major combines elements of the concerto and the toccata style. The fugue is an example of the chromatic style with roots in the organ repertoire of the late 16th and the 17th centuries.

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