Willem Tanke is mainly known for his eight CD-box with the complete organ works by Olivier Messiaen. Recorded on  six consecutive evenings with two edits only, these have been critically acclaimed for virtuosity and emotional impact.



Willem Tanke's ideal of playing keyboard instruments is based on a passage from the first biography on Bach by Forkel, published in 1802, in which the author points out that the great man achieved a maximum of expression with a minimum of movements.

His Bach interpretation is rooted in the historically informed performance practice.


Recently Willem Tanke made high resolution audio recordings of Bach's trio sonatas BWV 525 till 530 that are particularly cheerful, elegant and expressive.


Regarding the music of Bach and Messiaen music as a continuous journey, Tanke feels like coming home when playing Max Reger. His interpretation of Reger's magnificent and monumental Variationen und Fuge über ein Originalthema Op. 73 (issued on SuperAudio CD) and Fantasie und Fuge Op. 135b is of unrivaled grandeur:
As a composer and an improviser Willem Tanke has been developing a truly original and innovative language since the late '70s.  Ralph Blakely wrote about the SuperAudio CD Meditations for a lent "I believe it may be the most important recording I’ve reviewed for ARG. Tanke wrote that he intended to explore the direction music is headed in the 21st century. If that be so, I am excited about where it is going."

The independence of hands (and feet) necessary to play Bach’s trio sonatas allows Willem Tanke to play complex bass lines with the left hand while improvising with the right (and possible feet):


Blackbird version 16.7.2018 (work in progress)


Tanke documents his expertise on a separate website including an educational section:



Willem Tanke is a professor of theory and improvisation at Codarts, University of the Arts, Rotterdam. Students can apply for a Master of Music in Organ Performance degree under his guidance and have lessons from a team of organ professors.