Czechia: an organ music powerhouse

Schubert organ in Hranice

Czechia holds the unusual distinction of having the most organs per capita in the world, with about 10,000 of them to the country’s roughly 10 million inhabitants, meaning there is one organ per 1,000 people. This edition of our Sunday music show brings you a selection of organ music performed by Adam Viktora, who is the organiser of the Czech Organ Festival currently taking place around the country.

The 17th edition of the Czech Organ Festival offers approximately 70 concerts of powerful music played on a variety of organs throughout the country, from the bustling capital of Prague to small village churches. The instruments, dating from the 17th to the first half of the 20th century, are very diverse, ranging from the large and famous to the rare and historic.

The concert repertoire is always tailored to the specific organ it is being played on, as each instrument is unique and has its own unmistakable sound. Baroque pieces are ideal for a baroque organ, while a romantic instrument is best suited to a romantic repertoire, says Adam Viktora.

Varhanní koncert v kostele Nanebevzetí Panny Marie v Polné

Improvisation also forms part of the concerts, as in the past, according to Viktora, the art of playing the organ largely consisted of the ability to improvise, with only less experienced organists strictly adhering to sheet music.

The performers are top professional organists from Czechia and abroad, including Adam Viktora, the founder and artistic director of the Czech Organ Festival, as well as Vladimír Roubal, Jaroslav Tůma, Pavel Černý and many others. This year, Jörg-Andreas Bötticher from Switzerland will be a guest performer.

G. Muffat – Toccata prima – Adam Viktora

As well as concerts, the programme includes opportunities to see the instruments up close and personal, so you can appreciate their cultural significance and spiritual value and learn more about them from an aesthetic, technical and historical perspective.

Viktora says that the goal of the festival is to draw attention to neglected historical organs, breathe new life into them, and promote their preservation for future generations.

You can find the Czech Organ Festival’s full programme on its website The festival lasts until December 29.

Author: Libor Kukal | Source: Český varhanní festival
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