The Organ Masters – February 3

The Organ Masters: Peter Sykes

Bach, Mendelssohn and Brahms 

Fantasia, Fugues, Chorales and More

Peter Sykes, Organist  (Click for bio)

WMHT’s Interview with Peter Sykes (click here)

Saturday | February 3 | 4:00PM 

Unitarian Universalist Meeting House
1089 Main St, Housatonic, MA


Johann Sebastian Bach 
Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537
Chorale prelude “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele”, BWV 654

Felix Mendelssohn
Prelude and Fugue in G major, op. 37, no. 2
Sonata op. 65, no. 6

Niels Gade
Drei Orgelstücke op. 22

Johannes Brahms
Prelude and Fugue in G minor WoO 10
Selections from Op. 122 collection of chorale preludes


Bach’s organ music was recognized in his time as a pinnacle of that art form. It is almost as though succeeding generations of composers gave up on writing fine organ music, since Bach’s represents a kind of perfection that could not be imitated, much less improved. It took a totally new outlook on music – the Romantic era – to find a new musical language for the organ. Principally in Germany, seventy-five years after Bach’s death, the works of Felix Mendelssohn (himself a devotee of Bach’s music) and the young Johannes Brahms, wrote organ music that was both new and paid proper homage to the heritage of Bach. 

This recital will combine music of Bach, Mendelssohn, Niels Gade (a pupil of Mendelssohn’s) and Johannes Brahms. Both works using the common heritage of the Lutheran chorale and free works will bring to life the heritage of organ music and composition from these kindred spirits. 

The Johnson Tracker Organ
The “tracker” or mechanical-action organ at the UU Meeting House is the kind Bach knew. In the twentieth century the advent of electricity resulted in a kind of remote-control organ that, however impressive, resulted in the loss of intimacy and control that allow for a musician to truly influence the sound. The Johnson organ in Housatonic is something that Bach and his contemporaries would have recognized, and can serve as a vehicle for his music far better than a large modern organ.

Peter Sykes says:
For many, listening to organ music can be a bewildering experience – confronted by a ‘wall of sound’ without much to differentiate voices or notes, comprehension can be difficult. The Johnson organ in the UU Meeting House in Housatonic stands as a rebuttal to all that. Its voice is gentle, but clear; polyphony as found in Bach’s organ music stands out clearly, and it’s easy to follow the progress of a fugue since all the voices can be distinctly heard. At the same time, its color stops (string, flute and reed) are pretty, lyrical, and serve to support the musical lines without force or shrillness. And the Pedal division, with only one independent stop, gently yet firmly supports both a single stop and full organ with equal measure. This is an organ that is a musical instrument – not a synthesizer or sound machine, but a conveyor of a musical message.

Click here for our Organ Concert Quiz.



$25 General Public
$20 Berkshire Bach Members
Students free with ID

Available at the door (cash or checks) or in advance (click here)

BerkshireStyle chooses this concert as their “Favorite Thing”!