Improvisation Competition 2022

General information

In 1951, Louis Toebosch won the first International Organ Improvisation Competition. He was to be followed by Anton Heiller in 1952, Piet Kee (1953, 1954, 1955) and many other organists who later became internationally known names. Winning 'Haarlem' was, and is, the first step to an international career. Even just taking part in the competition has helped launch many a career, as the names of the numerous famous organists among the previous participants testify.

The 54th Haarlem International Improvisation Competition will take place on Wednesday 20, Friday 22 and Saturday 23 July, 2022. The participants in the Improvisation Competition 2022 were selected anonymously by an international jury, consisting of Ansgar Wallenhorst (D), Zuzana FerjenĨíková (SLO/A) and Jan Hage (NL). They judged 16 recordings submitted by organists from all over the world. The selected participants are:

Sebastian Benetello (D)
Marcel Eliasch (D)
Niklas Jahn (D)
Cyril Julien (CH)
David Kiefer (D)
Harmen Trimp (NL)
Wouter van der Wilt (NL)
Evan Bogerd (NL)

The material for the assignments will be created by several artists, and will not be only musical! As in 2016, 2018 and 2021, new elements and experimental techniques of improvising on and with the organ will be introduced, next to traditional improvising styles.

Three prizes will be awarded:

  • Jury Prize, consisting of € 4,000, a recital in the Haarlem Festival 2024 and a range of concerts in and outside Europe
  • Audience Prize, consisting of € 1,000 sponsored by Flentrop Orgelbouw BV
  • Prize of the best improvisation of the Competition, constisting of € 750


Since more then a decade, new elements are introduced in the improvisation competition. Most are kept secret because the participants are informed of the assignments only one hour before their performance. In 2022 the competition will take place on three beautiful Haarlem organs: the excellent three-manual Ahrendt & Brunzema organ (1969) in the Doopsgezinde Kerk, the exceptional Aristide Cavaillé-Coll organ (1871) in the Big Hall of Philharmonie, and the majestic and world-famous Christiaan Müller-organ (1738) in St Bavo's Church.

Would you like to experience the 'Haarlem' sound? Recordings of previous competition finalists are available via SoundCloud.