Helmut Walcha

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Helmut Walcha (born October 27, 1907 in Leipzig ; † August 11, 1991 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German organist , harpsichord player and composer .

Walcha went blind at the age of nineteen from an early childhood smallpox vaccination . At the age of 15 he passed the entrance examination at the Leipzig Conservatory and became Günther Ramin's youngest organ student . There he developed into an important Bach interpreter. From 1926 to 1929 he was Ramin's deputy at the Thomaskirche . From 1929 to 1944 he regularly performed organ cycles as organist at the Friedenskirche in Frankfurt am Main, and from 1933 taught at the Hoch Conservatory . In 1938 he received a professorship for organ at the Frankfurt Music Academy .

After the Second World War , Walcha founded the Institute for Church Music in Frankfurt and was organist at the Dreikönigskirche there from 1946 to 1981 . His organ vesper , founded in 1947 and based on the Leipzig model, has a permanent place in the weekly calendar of the Dreikönigskirche to this day. Readings, prayer and music are combined here on Saturdays at 5 p.m. (from 1st Advent to Pentecost).

Walcha gained a worldwide reputation as a Bach interpreter . Between 1947 and 1952 he made the first recording, in 1971 he completed the second comprehensive recording of Bach's organ work, begun in 1956. Walcha reissued the scores of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel , but also wrote his own chorale preludes, cantatas and musicological organ studies. Walcha was a profound connoisseur of early and high baroque German organ compositions. With a last concert, Walcha finally said goodbye to public music life in 1981.

For the record series Mathias Wiemans kleine Diskothek , which appeared in the early 1960s , Walcha von Wieman accompanied Paul Gerhardt's poems on the organ.

Helmut Walcha received the Goethe plaque from the city of Frankfurt am Main in 1957 . In 1967 he was honored with the Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany, and in 1987 with the Great Cross of Merit with a Star . Walcha was buried in an honorary grave of the city of Frankfurt on the Sachsenhausen southern cemetery. A small street is named after him in the Gallus district of Frankfurt .



Choral preludes for organ. IV volumes. CF Peters, Frankfurt a. M., 1954-1988.

  • Volume I. 25 chorale preludes, 1954 (EP 4850)
  • Volume II. 20 chorale preludes, 1963 (EP 4871)
  • Volume III. 24 chorale preludes, 1966 (EP 5999)
  • Volume IV. 19 Choral Preludes and Postlude, 1978 (EP 8413)


  • "Praise the Lord" (1932)
  • "Where the Lord God does not stop with us" (1933)
  • "Wake up my heart, the night is gone" (1947)

In addition, canons and two- and three-part movements for equal voices have appeared in various collections.


  • Georg Friedrich Handel, Organ Concerts op. 4, No. 1–6, B. Schott's Sons, Mainz, 1940
  • Georg Friedrich Handel, Organ Concerts op. 7, No. 1–6, B. Schott's Sons, Mainz, 1943
  • Johann Sebastian Bach, “Ricercare à 6 voci” from the “Musical Offering”. Transmission for organ (with detailed analysis), CF Peters, Frankfurt a. M., 1964
  • Johann Sebastian Bach, “The Art of Fugue”, transmission for organ with continuation and completion of the final fugue, CF Peters, Frankfurt a. M., 1967

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