Gerard Bunk is considered “one of the very great organ artists in the first half of the 20th century” (according to the standard work Handbuch Orgelmusik 2002). For Bunkʼs first biographer Rudolf Schroeder, “organ playing in such unprecedentedly crowded abundance as in Bunkʼs life ... [was] only possible through the perfection acquired from the piano at a young age”: indeed, Bunk enjoyed training as a pianist first in his native Rotterdam, then in England (allegedly with Mark Hambourg in London) and finally at the Hamburg Conservatory. He also remained a pianist throughout his life. At the organ he trained mainly through self-study, by, as he himself said, “listening, copying and imitating”. When in 1910, at the insistence of the Social Democrats, a “peopleʼs concert” was inserted at short notice as the first event of the Dortmund Max Reger Festival at a low admission price, the great moment of the twenty-two-year-old came: Read more
Gerard Bunk is born in Rotterdam on 4 March, the youngest of seven (surviving) children of the school principle, music teacher and choral conductor Gerardus Cornelis Bunk and his wife Maria.
After first musical instructions from his father and after the five-year-old has been found to have absolute pitch awareness, he is taught to play the violin (which only lasts three years, “because much more talent for the piano and the organ”) and theory.
Hendrik de Vries (1857−1929) comes to Rotterdam's Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk as organist of the Bätz organ − for Bunk "the most magnificent organ work I have ever seen and heard." He attends the fortnightly organ recitals of his "idol" de Vries − which will later serve as a model for his own Orgel-Feierstunden − and becomes acquainted here with "pretty much everything that belonged at that time to the more valuable organ literature of home and abroad", including the organ works of Bach, Liszt, Guilmant, Widor, Reger and Bossi. Read more