For centuries, the organ, with its instrumental characteristics, has served to express in the context of Western-European churches the awe and reverence of man before God, and in the heyday of the Baroque era, the music of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH took the place of musical worship service.
In directions to his disciples, Bach said, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. Where this is not observed, there will be no real music but only a devilish hubbub”. Invocations, such as Soli Deo Gloria (“Glory to God Alone”) and Jesu juva (“Jesus, help me!”), were placed by him in the form of abbreviations on the sheets of his scores and they signify the essence of his music, the dedication of his humble and devoted life.
In his Orgelbüchlein (“Little Organ Book”), a collection of little Chorale Preludes, he recorded the following: Dem Höchsten Gott allein’ zu Ehren, dem Nechsten, draus sich zu belehren (“In honour of our Lord alone that my fellow man his skill may hone”). These inscriptions were for him not just verbal formulas, but also confessions of faith, pervading all his work. Throughout his entire life, he remained faithful to his own church – the Lutheran. He was not only a devout believer, but also a theologian who navigated quite adeptly in religious affairs. His library included the complete collected writings of Luther, as well as seminal works of later theologians from different denominations. Bach is a phenomenon in German religious history through the kind of faith and mentality, embodied in his music.
In Bach’s times, the German organ school had was in a leading position, it was then that the best instruments were built in Germany and the most outstanding organ works were created. From the nineteenth century onward France took the leading role – this is where a school of organ was established by composers and performers. Modern compositions reflect the combined achievement of precisely these two schools.