The joy of organ music — from The Netherlands and Belgium

…and Luxemburg!

Since my recently acquired Facebook friend and 1967 HSC student from Cronulla High, Frank Stoffels, who passed away on 8 December was of Dutch background I believe, and a religious man, it is a lovely coincidence that just in the last couple of days I have encountered via YouTube a young organist from The Netherlands, pretty much in the borderland between what we call Holland and Flanders.

Gert van Hoef was born in June 1994 in the Dutch province of Gelderland. According to Wikipedia:

It was only at the age of 13 that he became interested in the organ and his grandfather taught him the knowledge about the organ, after which he put it into practice on the home organ given by his parents . He was self-taught and could not read a single note, but due to his proven talent and practice, he quickly played a number of classic works by heart. In 2008 he started a serious study by taking lessons from organists in the local area, including Evert van de Veen and Herman van Vliet . Already at the age of 16 he was in Voorthuizen appointed as the permanent organist of the Dutch Reformed Church . In 2013 he started studying at the Royal Conservatoire , majoring in organ and minor in piano. He completed this study in 2018.

— Translated from Dutch

The first piece I encountered is the very famous Bach Toccata and Fugue in D-minor (BWV 565) — recorded June 2013. You do the maths! The performance demands headphones as loud as you can stand!

Then Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from May 2015:

Finally from St. Laurenskerk Rotterdam in December 27, 2019 improvisations on “Amazing Grace”. Not the John Newton hymn we all know — but if you wondered what happens if they pull all the stops out….

He married his assistant, Marjolein Speijer, and they now have a child. And an enormous YouTube Channel!