Piet Kee

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Piet Kee

Pieter William Kee (30 August 1927 – 25 May 2018)[1] was a Dutch organist and composer.[2][3]


Born in Zaandam, Netherlands, Kee studied organ, piano and composition at the Amsterdam Conservatory, obtaining the Prix d'Excellence, and won first prize at the annual Haarlem International Improvisation Competition three times in succession (1953 to 1955).[4] This was the start of a worldwide career as a concert organist. [5]

Kee taught at the Music Lyceum and Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam from 1954 until 1988, and at the Haarlem International Summer Academy for Organists. He was organist of the Hagerbeer-Schnitger organ in St. Laurens church in Alkmaar from 1952 to 1987, and city organist of the world-famous Müller organ at St. Bavo church in Haarlem from 1956 until 1989.[4][5]

Kee's improvisation skills were renowned. His compositions included the "Haarlem Concerto", which received its first performance by Thomas Trotter in March 2006. His numerous recordings, several of which received awards, include a series of CDs on the Chandos label, covering the repertoire from Sweelinck to Messiaen, recorded on important European historical instruments.[4]

In 1988, with Olivier Messiaen, Kee received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Organists.[4][5]

In February 2014, several of Kee's compositions were performed in a "Composer's Portrait" concert at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam. This included a version of The Organ for five pipe organs.[6].

Kee died in Haarlem 90 years old.


The list below is selective. Publishers include Bärenreiter-Verlag (BA), Donemus(D), Harmonia (H), Hinrichsen/Peters (HP) and Boeijenga Music Publications (BO).

Recent compositions (see further below for details) include:

  • Organ and panpipes – Magic Pipes. Premiered on September 11, 2012 in St Bavo, with Matthijs Koene panpipes, and Jos van der Kooy organ. The piece was performed by the same artists at Bogazici University, Istanbul in November 2012.
  • Carillon – Kampanella (see and hear the premiere).
  • Organ and Alto Saxophone(s) – Performance.
  • Organ – Three Organ Pieces.


  • Triptych on Psalm 86 (1960) (HP)
  • Two Organ Pieces (1962) (HP)
Fantasia on "Wachet Auf"
Passion Choral
  • Four Pieces for Manuals (1966) (BA 8265)
Choral "Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir" on Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir (P J Sawyer) at St. Laurenskerk, Rotterdam)
  • Intrada for two organs on "Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag" after Nikolaus Herman's hymn (BO)
  • Gedenck-Clanck 76 – Ode to Valerius based on 3 Dutch songs (1976) (H)
  • Bios – in seven movements (1995) (BA 7651)
  • The Organ – inspired by paintings of Pieter Saenredam (2000) (BA 9365)
  • Three Organ Pieces (BA 9393)
Seventy Chords – (2008) (originally published in "Essays in Honor of Ewald Kooiman" (BO))
Cervus (Psalm 42) – for organ (or harmonium) (2006) see score
Voluntary on HSAE (2009)

Organ with other instruments[edit]

  • Music and Space – for two organs, three trumpets and two trombones (1969) (D)
  • Confrontation – for church organ and three street organs (1979)
  • Network – for main organ plus small organ or electronic keyboard, alto saxophone and soprano recorder (1996) (BA 7421)
  • Festival Spirit – for main organ and four positiv or box organs, commissioned for performance by jury members of the St. Albans International Organ Festival competition, UK (2001)
  • Bios II – for organ, solo violin and percussion (2002)
  • Haarlem Concerto – for organ and orchestra (symphonic wind ensemble, an alto and tenor saxophone, double basses, percussion and harmonium) (2006) (D)
  • Performance – for alto saxophone and organ (2009) (BA 9392). (A version for twelve saxophones and organ is available by contacting Bärenreiter or the composer.)
  • Magic Pipes – for panpipes and organ (2012)

Other compositions[edit]

  • The World – a mini oratorio using a text of Henry Vaughan for mixed choir, four vocal soloists (SATB) and ad libitum continuo instrument (1999) (BA 7587)
  • Heaven – an echo fantasy using a text of George Herbert for unaccompanied mixed choir and two echo sopranos (2000)
  • Frans Hals Suite for carillon (1990) (D)
Luidstuk (Ringing Piece)
Sarabande voor Judith Leyster
Frans Hals Toccata
  • Daaaee for carillon (1999)
  • Flight – flute solo (1992) (D)
  • Opstreek (Up-bow) – for violin and piano (1997)
  • Winds – for reed quintet (2000)
  • Kampanella for carillon (2011) – composed for the inauguration of the restored Hemony carillon (17th century) in Kampen, Netherlands
  • Improvisations – none transcribed, but the improvisation in the final of the 1953 Haarlem Organ Improvisation Competition, a Sonata in three movements, is available for listening from the NCRV archives. The contestants were Paul Barras, Anton Heiller, Piet Kee (winner), Matthieu Prange and Karl Richter.

See the Improvisation Themes and instructions, Loudspeaker.svg Listen to the themes

Listen to the archived performances: Loudspeaker.svg Anton Heiller[permanent dead link] (includes playing of the themes), Piet Kee[permanent dead link] and Karl Richter[permanent dead link]

See the Archive home page[permanent dead link]


Earlier recordings, released since 1954, can be found on the Telefunken, HMV, Philips and Guild labels.[7] Starting in 1989, Piet Kee made a series of eleven recordings for Chandos Records,[8] including works of Sweelinck, Pachelbel, Bruhns, Buxtehude, Bach, Walther, Mendelssohn, Franck, Alain, Reger, Hindemith, Andriessen and Messiaen on notable European instruments including St. Bavo Haarlem, St. Laurens Alkmaar, Roskilde Cathedral Denmark, Basilika Weingarten, Martini Church Groningen and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Several of these recordings are now available as MP3 downloads.


  • The Secrets of Bach's Passacaglia – Musik und Kirche, 52 (1982) and 53 (1983). Also The Diapason, June, July, August and September 1983.
  • Astronomy in Buxtehude's Passacaglia – Ars Organi (1984), Reprinted in Organist's Review, August 2007.
  • Number and Symbolism in the Passacaglia and Ciacona – Musik und Kirche, May 1988. Also John Loosemore Association 1988 (ISBN 1-871179-01-7)
  • Haydn's Last Symphony: Input from London?The Musical Times, vol.147 no.1897 (Winter 2006), pp. 57–62

Recordings of Piet Kee's compositions[edit]

  • Tryptich on Psalm 86 – Jos van der Kooy, St. Bavo church, Haarlem, "Orgels in Nederland 2005", box 2, CD no. 8.
  • Fantasia on Wachet auf and Choral on Aus tiefer Not – Piet Kee, St. Bavo church, Haarlem, Guild Records LP GRSP 7014, Xenophone CD 885220.
  • Gedenck-Clanck 76 – Piet Kee, Sint Laurenskerk Alkmaar, Guild Records LP GRSP 7017, Wisp CD 25962.
  • Confrontation – Philips LP 6410 767.
  • Frans Hals Suite – Arie Abbenes, Carillon of Domkerk Utrecht, "Dutch Compositions for Carillon", issued by Utrechtse Klokkenspel Vereniging.
  • Bell Extravaganza : Ringing Piece from Frans Hals Suite – Adrian Tien, National Carillon Canberra, Move Records MD 3224.
  • The Organ – Jos van der Kooy, St. Bavo Haarlem, "New Music for the Müller Organ", Etcetera KTC 1364.
  • Cervus (Psalm 42) – Jos van der Kooy, Philharmonie, Haarlem, Tulip Records TURE 185003.
  • Intrada for two organs on "Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag" – Bert Lassing and Marco bij de Vaate, Grotekerk, Culemborg.


  • Sadie, S. (ed.) (1980) The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, vol. 9.
  • Philip Sawyer "Piet Kee in conversation" in Organists' Review, May 2008.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Haarlem Essays, Celebrating Fifty International Organ Festivals. A major volume containing very extensive information from a wide range of authors including Piet Kee.
  • Choir & Organ magazine – an article entitled Competing Forces by Stephen Farr in the September/October 2015 issue, with interesting comments related to performances of Piet Kee's Network and Music in Space.
  • Choir & Organ magazine – a review of his Three Organ Pieces and The Organ by Stephen Farr in the September/October 2012 issue.
  • Royal College of Organists (RCO) Journal, Volume 6, 2012 – an article entitled "A life making music: a conversation with Piet Kee on his 85th birthday", with Andrew McCrea.
  • NCRV[permanent dead link] – Dutch Radio Association, providing extensive archive material with searching by composer, organist and instrument.
  • Scottish Federation of Organists News, Issue 10, January 2008 – an article entitled "Piet Kee in conversation with Philip Sawyer", which includes details of his recordings and compositions. (This article was also published in the May 2008 issue of Organists' Review.)
  • Choir & Organ magazine – an interview with Piet Kee in the November/December 2006 issue.
  • Het Orgel – Dutch organ magazine with summaries in English and useful links.


  1. ^ Organist en componist Piet Kee 90 overleden rd.nl; 25-05-'18; geraadpleegd: 26-05-'18
  2. ^ "Piet Kee (Organ)". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  3. ^ Jack, Adrian. (22 June 1995). 'Piet Kee still in good shape'. The Independent. Westminster Cathedral. (London, UK).
  4. ^ a b c d Piet Kee (Organ). Bach Cantatas website.
  5. ^ a b c (2012). 'From Kee to keyboard slurring: RCO publishes 2012 Journal'. Royal College of Organists. (United Kingdom).
  6. ^ "Componistenportret: Piet Kee". www.orgelpark.nl. Orgelpark. Archived from the original on 2017-01-04. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  7. ^ 'Piet Kee'. Discogs.
  8. ^ 'Piet Kee - Bach/ Buxtehude: Organ Works'. Chandos Records.