Trio in D minor

Trio in D minor

BWV 583 performed by Dorien Schouten
Bovenkerk, Kampen

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Absolute music?

How a possible mistake led to a search that lasted years

Is this a trio with a hidden chorale? Sources for this piece have only survived from after Bach’s death. In one manuscript, it is simply called Trio a 2 Clav. e Pedal, and in the other it is referred to as a Choral Vorspiel auf der Orgel. But even the most devoted listener soon scratches his head, wondering which chorale is involved. A melody is nowhere to be found in the long notes, and there is not much to go on in the rest either.

The only clue is in the four descending notes with which first the left hand and then the right hand begins. These notes are precisely like the beginning of the melody that Bach wrote for the words of Hier lieg ich nun, mein Gott, BWV 519. These words appeared in various hymnbooks of Bach’s day, but were usually sung to different melodies. In one hymnbook from 1719, however, there is a melody for this chorale, of which the four beginning notes correspond more or less exactly to the opening of Bach’s own melody and to that of this trio. Moreover, this opening motif continually recurs throughout the trio.

But that is all there is, as neither Bach’s own melody for Hier lieg ich nun, mein Gott nor the 1719 collection appear to have left any other traces in this trio. Maybe the one copyist just made a mistake, and this trio is not a chorale arrangement at all. It could be a separate trio, an arrangement of a trio movement by another composer, or maybe it came from a longer sonata, like Bach’s organ sonatas, BWV 525-530. In any case, we can ‘listen freely’, without pricking up our ears for a chorale.

Trio in D minor
organ works
ca. 1723-1730?

Extra videos

Organist Dorien Schouten

“It's always a challenge for an organist to find a good registration so that all three parts are well balanced.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    24 June 2016
  • Recording date
    1 October 2015
  • Location
    Bovenkerk, Kampen
  • Organist
    Dorien Schouten
  • Organ
    Reil choir organ
  • Film directors
    Jan Van den Bossche, Hanna Schreuders
  • Camera
    Maarten van Rossem, Gijs Besseling
  • Music production, editing and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Film editor and interview
    Gijs Besseling
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh

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