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University of Iowa News Release


March 7, 2007

Photo: Delbert Disselhorst, head of the organ performance and church music areas of the University of Iowa School of Music. Click here for a high-resolution version of the image.

Organist Disselhorst Celebrates Bach's Birthday With Concert March 21

Delbert Disselhorst, head of the organ performance and church music areas of the University of Iowa School of Music, will be assisted by the choral group Kantorei and conductor David Puderbaugh in a performance of Part III of J.S. Bach's "Clavierübung" (Keyboard practice) at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus

The performance, presented on the 322nd anniversary of Bach's birthday, will be free and open to the public.

Revered today as one of the greatest composers of European music history, Bach was a devout Lutheran who spent much of his creative life writing music for church services. He was also recognized as one of the greatest organists of his generation, and his organ works in particular reflect a remarkable combination of deep devotion, complete mastery of compositional technique and a thorough knowledge of the instrument. They are considered among the essential works for all church organists.

One of Bach's many encyclopedic projects, the "Clavierübung" consists of four books. While parts I, II and IV are devoted to the harpsichord, Part III is devoted to sacred works for the organ. This volume was published in 1739, a year that marked major anniversaries of the Lutheran Reformation. It was Bach's first publication for organ, timed to coincide with the celebration of the anniversaries.

The title "Clavierübung" had been used by a number of composers, including Bach's predecessor in Leipzig, Johann Kuhnau. In this context, "Keyboard practice" means a working out of keyboard compositions in a variety of styles.

Volume III opens with a Prelude in E-flat and ends with a Fugue in the same key. Between them, Bach placed music for the Lutheran Mass as well as large and small settings of Luther's hymns for the six major parts of the Catechism. Bach uses musical symbolism to recall Luther's emphasis on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. For example, the opening and closing pieces are in E-flat, which has three flats, and each has three principal themes. The volume is the third of the set, and includes 27 individual works (3x3x3).

Disselhorst played the same program in 1985, as part of "Baroque Fest " at the UI. The year 1985 was celebrated world-wide because it was coincidentally the anniversary year of several important Baroque composers: the 300th anniversary of the birth of Bach, George Frideric Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, and the 400th anniversary of the birth of Heinrich Schütz.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. As a concert artist, he has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. He has been a featured artist for international festivals and concert series in the cathedrals of Trier and Limburg and the Munster in Freiburg, Germany. For more information, see

Puderbaugh joined the UI faculty as assistant director of choral activities in 2006. He conducts Camerata and teaches graduate choral literature. He received a bachelor's degree from Drake University, a master's degree and doctorate from the UI. His research interest in Estonian choral music led in a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct dissertation research on that country's national song festivals during the Soviet occupation. For more information, see

Kantorei is the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music. It is a touring ensemble of approximately 30 singers, most of whom are graduate students. Kantorei presents four or five concerts on campus each year, tours to off-campus performances and participates in major choral works with the University Symphony. Past tours have been international, including performances in Russia, Korea and Spain.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072; cell: 319-541-2846;

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