"In Bach’s Home"

2nd International Online Competition for Organ Improvisation, Bach in Weimar e.V.

Artistic Direction, Coordination: Prof. Martin Sturm

Attention! After careful consideration and consultation with the jury, we have decided to extend the submission window to April, 21st.

Submission Window: March 11 - April 21, 2024



Bach in Weimar e.V. is organizing its second online organ improvisation competition this year. The new competition format invites young organists from all over the world to engage improvisationally and innovatively with the globally important Thuringian organ landscape and the great composers who revolutionized the organ world from Thuringia.


Johann Sebastian Bach grew up in this extraordinary organ landscape. As an organist at the Weimar court, he wrote his most outstanding organ works and throughout his life, as a contact for organists and organ builders, he shaped the unique sound cosmos of Middle German Baroque organs. With his numerous colorful voices, the desire for gravity on the one hand and for subtle sounds on the other, Bach helped shape an organ style that made emotional, highly differentiated and dynamic organ playing possible in a special way – something that we can still experience today.


You can also get very close to Bach as a private person in Thuringia: The Weimar Bach House still stands today as a mysterious underground ruin in the middle of Weimar’s old town. The preserved but currently inaccessible vaulted cellar may still hold many secrets, and parts of the facade are still waiting to be reused today as an authentic Bach location in the middle of the classic city of Weimar.


An imaginative situation: How did Bach's brilliant compositions come about here? Who came and went when this building was the home of the young Bach family between 1708 and 1717? What are the formative experiences Wilhelm Friedemann or Carl Philipp Emmanuel thought back on from their childhood in Weimar? How could the “Bachhaus” be designed in the future as an authentic Bach place in Weimar?


These are just a few examples of numerous inspiring questions that are worth responding to musically and improvisationally.

Conditions of Participation

The online organ improvisation competition is open to young organists from all over the world; communication takes place in English or German. All applicants who are not older than 35 at the time of registration are eligible to participate. There are no participation fees; prizes are awarded by a five-member international jury based on submitted videos.

Registration and process

The videos (mp4) created by the applicants, including the competition documents, must be sent via WeTransfer or similar websites to the following email address:


Documents to be submitted in addition to the videos:

- an artist CV including date of birth, address and contact details (pdf)

- an artist photo in high resolution (jpg)

- builder, year of construction and disposition of the organ(s) used (pdf)

- declaration of consent to the use of the submitted videos, as well as the CV and the artist photo in print and social media.


Attention! After careful consideration and consultation with the jury, we have decided to extend the submission window to April, 21st.

Submissions may be made from March, 11th to April 21st, 2024.

Applicants will be informed of the results of the competition by the end of April. By participating in the competition, the applicants agree to perform at a public concert on Saturday, May 11, 2024, Herz-Jesu Church (Weimar) if they win a prize. The organizer will bear the accommodation and travel costs.


Furthermore, the applicants agree that the submitted videos may be presented publicly in whole or in part and that the applicants may be promoted in a variety of ways by the Bach Biennale and its media partners in radio and press based on the submitted documents.


The Bach Biennale Weimar awards the following cash prizes:


1. Preis: 2000 €; simultaneously awarded as the 2024 „Günter Blobel Award“ *

2. Preis: 1500 €

3. Preis: 1000 €


* „Friends of Dresden“ (New York), who endow the Günther Blobel Award, and Bach in Weimar e.V. have decided to give the 2024 award as the first prize award to the winner of the organ improvisation competition "In Bach's House".

This is a commemoration of the 1774 fire in Weimar Palace: thepalace chapel (Himmelsburg - "heaven's castle"), which is where Bach worked, and its Bach organ were completely destroyed precisely 250 years ago.


Bach in Weimar will take the anniversary of this event as a reason to give an impulse for the construction of a Weimar BachWelt (a "Bach World" at the authentic site of Bach's home).

Save the Date: SA 07. Sept., 2024 - “Hotspot Bach 250”

Further information soon on this website!


In addition, the award winners are publicly promoted by various media partners and receive various concert engagements at home and abroad.

The jury is not obliged to award every prize. Prizes cannot be shared, but may be awarded twice.

In addition to the cash prizes, the winners of the online competition will be invited to a public concert on Friday, May 10, 2024, where, among other things, they will spontaneously improvise on audience-submitted prompts. An audience prize will also be awarded during the concert.


The international jury is composed of:


Hans-Ola Ericsson (Sweden)

Johannes Lang (Germany)

Sietze de Vries (Netherlands)

Martin Sturm (Germany) - Jury chairman



The applicants submit a total of four video recordings. The four different tasks can be recorded on four different instruments. The respective video may not be cut or otherwise edited. As far as possible, the player’s entire body should be visible in the video.


Task 1 (approx. 10–15 min.)


House music with the Bachs

Let J. S. Bach’s guests, friends and students in Weimar inspire you for your improvisation(s). These include, for example, Prince Ernst of Saxe-Weimar and Johann Gottfried Walther, with whom Bach began to arrange Italian concertos for the organ – organ music that belongs to Weimar and the Thuringian organ landscape like no other. Making music together, shared traditions, discussions about music, art and much more, as well as a number of anecdotes will not have been neglected on such occasions.


Task 2 (approx. 10–15 min.)



a) In class with Wilhelm Friedemann

Wilhelm Friedemann’s training began early. This is evidenced not only by the little music book that J. S. Bach made for his eldest son. What musical and aesthetic ideas were conveyed in the shared lessons? How did they influence the thinking of the future celebrated organist, improviser and composer Wilhelm Friedemann Bach? Let yourself be inspired for your improvisation(s) by the life and work of the “Hallesche Bach”, which began in Weimar.



b) In Carl Philipp Emmanuel’s childhood room

The life and work of Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach also began in Weimar. What imaginative world surrounded the young Carl Philipp Emmanuel? Which influences from his Weimar childhood are reflected in his later, emotional and affect-laden music? For your improvisation(s), go on a search for such traces in the work of Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach.


Task 3 (approx. 5 min.)


Visions for a Weimar Bach House

Create your personal sounding vision of a Bach house in Weimar using a variety of contemporary means. Be inspired by old photographs, the hidden vaulted cellar, by old and new architecture or by your ideas for what a sustainable Bach space for society, education and art might be. Information, photos, and historical documents regarding the historical Weimar Bachhaus can be found at (


Task 4 (approx. 5 min.)


Personal afterword

Design an improvisation entirely according to your individual artistic premises.