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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 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.
Since several years, 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 2021 two new beautiful Haarlem organs were introduced in the competition: the inspiring four-manual organ in St Bavo's Basilica, built in 1923 by the Dutch organ builder Adema Orgelbouw, and the excellent three-manual Ahrendt & Brunzema organ (1969) in the Doopsgezinde Kerk. Of course, the final round will take place at 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.