Pedaling in the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach

by Jolanda Zwoferink | Het ORGEL | Year 118 | (2022) | Issue 3

Foto Jolanda Zwoferink

One of the frequently discussed subjects in historically informed performance practice is the pedaling of the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach.  In the last three decades there have been publications by Jon Laukvik , Ewald Kooiman, and Stef Tuinstra, who discussed pedal playing on authentic instruments against a broad historical background.   None of these writers however mentioned the source that gives information about Bach’s organ shoes.   Moreover the subject was not discussed from the point of view of the height of the organ bench or the height of the heel of the shoe.

Since these aspects can shed a different light on the pedaling of Bach’s organ works, this article takes up the discussion anew.   The historical sources on pedaling are studied, as are Bach’s pedaling and the pedaling of Bach’s organ compositions.   In conclusion it is considered whether – in view of body length, shoe size, and height of the heel – it is possible to play with the heel on Middle-German organs of the 18th century.