Lexington Presbyterian Church Post-Worship Treat Sunday, August 7, 2022 William McCorkle plays the C. B. Fisk pipe organ, opus 128 (2007) Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck: Fantasia in G minor Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) holds a firm place as one of the giants in the history of the pipe organ and its players. Master musician of Amsterdam, he held the post of organist at the Oude Kerk, the city’s principal church, from at least 1580 until his death. While not a church organist in the fullest sense of the word, since the Dutch Reformed Church, Calvinist in character, forbade the use of most polyphonic or instrumental music in worship services, Sweelinck was expected to perform daily recitals – generally an hour of uninterrupted music – to follow the morning and evening services. Like most of the keyboard virtuosos of his time, Sweelinck was best known for his improvisations, the best of which he noted down and allowed others to see.
Sweelinck was an important link between musicians from both England and northern Europe at a rich time of fruitful creativity in spite of significant turbulence and strife between catholics and protestants. His keyboard music displays the virtuosity and complexity to which keyboard writing and playing were evolving. Perhaps his greatest legacy, in addition to an impressive body of keyboard and vocal/choral compositions, is his influential role as teacher and colleague to many prominent musicians on both sides of the sea. Among Sweelinck’s keyboard compositions are a number of fantasias, musical compositions with their roots in improvisation, and which tended not to adhere to textbook rules of any strict musical form, such as the ricercar or fugue. Today’s organ piece is a splendid example of his genius.
The compositions of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck are in the public domain.