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Organ Past, Organ Future

Acclaimed virtuoso Iveta Apkalna takes us on a personal odyssey through organ music, exploding myths and cliches, and reinventing how we see this extraordinary musical machine.

Organ repertoire is steeped in history and mythology, a tradition moulded by generations of performer-composers - and Europe’s own social history. It can be both a virtue - and a millstone.

Iveta explores a selection of works that have defined generations of music that followed: but also composers and performers who have remixed and transformed that tradition - moving organ music squarely into the 21st century. With music by JS Bach, Ligeti, Mozart, Muhly, Philip Glass and Thierry Escaich.


Acclaimed Latvian organ virtuoso Iveta Apkalna takes us on an odyssey through some of the greatest music for her instrument: exploding myths, overturning cliches and reinventing the way we approach one of the most extraordinary musical machines ever created.

She revels in an array of arresting, brilliant organ music from the famous to the unfamiliar: from cherished masterpieces by JS Bach, Liszt and Vierne to lesser-known works by Saariaho, Eben, Rheinberger and Nico Muhly. In focusing squarely on this remarkable repertoire, Iveta puts to bed any preconceptions that the world of the organ is somehow dry or technical - guiding us through the musical brilliance of some of the greatest performers of the last 100 years.

Above all, this is personal. No completism, no apologies for missing out this or that fugue or toccata. Instead: a fresh, compelling approach to some of the greatest - and often under-appreciated - music ever written.

Produced by Steven Rajam.
An Overcoat Media Production for BBC Radio 3.

18 days left to listen

59 minutes

Last on

Sun 4 Apr 2021 23:00

Music Played

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Toccata and Fugue in D minor

    Performer: Unknown.
  • Charles‐Marie Widor

    Toccata (Symphony no.5 in F minor, Op.42 no.1)

    Performer: Unknown.
  • Francis Poulenc

    Organ Concerto

    Performer: Unknown.
  • Péter Eötvös


    Performer: Unknown.
  • Henry Purcell

    Trumpet Tune

    Performer: Unknown.
  • György Ligeti

    Coulee (Two Etudes)

    Performer: Hans‐Ola Ericsson.
  • Anonymous

    My Lady Carey's Dumpe

    Performer: Ton Koopman.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Fantasia in F minor, K.608

    Performer: Thomas Trotter.
  • Grizzly Bear

    Southern Point

  • Nico Muhly

    The Rev'd Mustard, His Installation Prelude

    Performer: James McVinnie.
  • Jean Guillou

    Air tendre pour la rose

    Performer: Jean Guillou.
  • Thierry Escaich

    Evocation II

    Performer: Iveta Apkalna.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV.582

    Performer: Marie‐Claire Alain.
  • Philip Glass

    Music in Contrary Motion

    Performer: Iveta Apkalna.


  • Sun 4 Apr 2021 23:00