Jan Hage


Jan Hage began organ studies with Kees van Eersel and then entered the Utrechts Conservatorium where his teacher was Jan Welmers. He continued studies in France with André Isoir where he earned his Prémier Prix ‘à l’unanimité du jury’ at the Conservatoire National de Région te Boulogne-Billancourt. He won first prizes in competitions in Leiden, Bolsward, Schaffhausen and Poitiers. In 1995, he was named organist at the Kloosterkerk in Den Haag. He became organist at the Cathedral in Utrecht in 2011. He has recorded several CDs of contemporary organ music.

Jan Hage and Tatiana Koleva – Improvised excerpt of the film ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ – Joriskerk
Jan Hage – Concert Improvisation – Den Haag Kloosterkerk

Bernard Bartelink


Bernard Bartelink (1929-2014) studied organ with Albert de Klerk at the Dutch Institute for Catholic Church Music in Utrecht. He continued his studies at the Amsterdam Conservatory with Anthon van der Horst, earning a Prix d’Excellence in 1954. Winner of the Haarlem Improvisation Competition in 1961, he also served on the jury for the competition four times between 1969 and 1996. He held the position of organist at St. Bavo from 1971 until 1999. He was professor of organ and improvisation at the Amsterdam Conservatory until 1989.

Entry in the 11th Haarlem Improvisation Competition
Entry in the 12th Haarlem Improvisation Competition

Klaas Bolt

KlaasBoltKlaas Bolt (1927-1990) taught improvisation at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, where Masaaki Suzuki was among his students.


Klaas Bolt: Improvisations
– Haarlem Bavokerk, Haarlem Nieuwekerk, Zandvoort, Krewerd, Groningen Martinikerk
– Disque Lindenberg; CD 38,

Live Concert Maartenskerk Zalt
Includes an improvisation on Psalm 79

Entry in the 7th Haarlem Improvisation Competition
Entry in the 8th Haarlem Improvisation Competition
Klaas Bolt – Haarlem, 1958
Klaas Bolt – Variatie over een Sint-Nicolaaslied – Grote of Sint-Bavokerk Haarlem

Klaas Bolt – Psalm 108 – Harderwijk

Jan Bender


Jan Bender (1909-1994) was born in Haarlem, The Netherlands. At age 13, he moved to Lübeck, Germany, and began studying organ with Karl Lichtwark at the Marienkirche. In 1929, he studied with Walter Kraft, the new Marienkirche organist. In 1930, he enrolled as a student of Karl Straube at the Kirchen-musikalische Institut of the Landeskirche Sachsen, part of the Leipzig Konservatorium. He later studied composition from Hugo Distler. He served as organist at St. Gertrudkirche in Lübeck, St. Lambertikirche in Aurich, and Michaeliskirche in Lüneburg (where J.S. Bach had studied in his early years). He eventually came to teach in the United States at Concordia Teacher’s College in Seward, Nebraska, before becoming Associate Professor of Composition and Organ at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Though he returned to live in Germany upon his retirement in 1976, he continued teaching with occasional residencies in the US at Valparaiso University, Gustavus Adolphus College, and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.

He composed over one hundred works, primarily for for organ and/or choir. Though active in the Missouri Synod, he served on the commission which eventually published the Lutheran Book of Worship. He wrote a method book for organ improvisation:

Organ Improvisation for Beginners: A Book of Self-Instruction for Church Musicians : Op. 59
A full review of the method book can be found here.

Piet van Egmond


Website of the Piet van Egmond Foundation. It includes biographical information as well as some mp3 files and information on other recordings that Piet van Egmond made.

Piet van Egmond (1912 – 1982) was a Dutch organist and conductor. According to tradition, Van Egmond gave his first organ recital in 1927 at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam with a program of works by Bach. In the same year he was admitted to the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he organ studied with Cornelis de Wolf. In 1933 Van Egmond was appointed organist at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. After World War II, he was organist successively at the Jeruzalemkerk (1952-1956), the Bachzaal Church and then the Thomaskerk in Amsterdam (1956-1967), the Gereformeerde Wilhelminakerk in Haarlem, and finally the Grote Kerk in Apeldoorn (1971-1977). He became well known for his organ improvisations on hymns and spiritual songs at the end of his organ concerts and during services.

Recordings at NCRV:

Piet van Egmond – Improvisation of a “Rough Storm” – Wilhelminakerk, Haarlem
Piet van Egmond – Improvisation on Ps 138 – Grote kerk, Dordrecht

Jos van der Kooy


Jos van der Kooy is organist in residence at St Bavo’s Church in Haarlem (Müller organ), the Haarlem Philharmonie (Cavaillé-Coll organ), Westerkerk in Amsterdam (two organs), and the Gothic Hall at the Netherlands Council of State in The Hague. He studied organ and improvisation with Piet Kee at the Conservatory of Amsterdam where he was awarded the Prix d’Excellence in 1981. He was awarded first prize of the Haarlem International Improvisation Competition in 1980 and 1981 and the first prize of the National Improvisation Competition in Bolsward in 1978. He now teaches organ, improvisation and church music at the Academy of Arts of the University of Leiden, the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, and the International Summer Academy for organists in Haarlem.

He has performances that are included in the NCRV archive here, including an improvisation on Gezang 21. You can her him on Spotify.

Jos van der Kooy – Improvisation on ‘Komt vrienden in den ronde’ – Joriskerk
Jos van der Kooy – Improvisation – St Maartenskerk

Willem Tanke

Willem-TankeOfficial website:
YouTube Channel:
Willem Tanke (b. 1959) studied organ and improvisation with Jan Welmers, music theory with Joep Straesser and electronic music with Ton Bruynel at Utrecht Conservatory. In 1985, he finished his studies with the Performance Diploma for Organ with full marks (the grade of 10 and honours), and also with diplomas for music theory and improvisation.
Willem Tanke was a professor of organ at Utrecht University of Professional Arts Education from 1988 until 2000. Since 2001, he teaches organ, improvisation and theory at Rotterdam Conservatoire.

Indian rhythms in organ improvisation

Sietze de Vries


Official website:

Sietze de Vries received his professional training from, among others, Wim van Beek, Jan Jongepier and Jos van der Kooy. He was awarded his undergraduate degree at the Groningen Conservatoire; at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague he completed his post-graduate studies with an endorsement for improvisation. In addition, he graduated from the Alkmaar school for church music with the Dutch church music diploma.

Between 1987 and 2002 he won fifteen prizes at various national and international competitions for both repertoire and improvisation. The pinnacle, and also the conclusion, of that period was his triumph at the International Improvisation competition in Haarlem in 2002. On two previous occasions he had been a finalist.

He has many recordings available here:
Many of these recordings have been shared on YouTube by the user Henk van den Brink.

DeVriesHarmonizingHe has written a book- Harmonizing: A Method to Encourage the Art of Improvising which covers basic theory while gradually moving toward improvising using I, IV, and V in easier keys. As the book advances, he includes harmonizing and improvisation on ii, iii, and vi as well as in minor keys and even church modes. Published by Boeijenga Music Publications. Available from the OHS Catalog here.

Sietze de Vries – Improvisation on Psalm 130 – Grote kerk, Brouwershaven
Sietze de Vries – Improvisation on’The Old Hundredth’ – Martinikerk, Groningen