Robert Woolley
harpsichordist, organist, fortepianist

(please type into your email server)

follow me on twitter

   find me on facebook





CD of music by Handel and his English contemporaries, including Handel’s friend Maurice Greene, organist of St Paul’s, Thomas Roseingrave, organist of Handel’s parish church, Starling and William Goodwin, organists of Southwark Cathedral, William Boyce and John Stanley, organist of the Temple Church, played on an organ built in 1766 by Thomas Parker - Handel's favourite organ builder! 

The CD will shortly be obtainable from

You can also pre-order the CD from Amazon

Regent Recordings

Performed on the 1766 Thomas Parker Organ at St Mary and St Nicholas, Leatherhead see below

NEXT CD RELEASE Handel and his English contemporaries - see below
Sean Rafferty and Robert Woolley discuss the 1740 Shudi harpsichord from the Royal Collection, and play music composed for the First Georgians by Handel and Domenico Paradies on BBC Radio 3 In Tune on - 1hr: 40 mins in
This year Robert will make audio and video recordings of music connected with George I and II, playing a two manual harpsichord commissioned in 1740 by Frederick, Prince of Wales, from Burkat Shudi, which was later owned by King George III and Queen Charlotte, and now belongs to the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  He will give a recital on this instrument at Buckingham Palace later this year.
This harpsichord is one of Shudi's earliest and finest instruments.  Its quills are taken from the ravens from the Tower of London.


Listen to recordings on this instrument here: Royal Collection Sound
Concert, Buckingham Palace, Friday 30 May: Royal Collection Event
Royal Collection Trust - What's on: Royal Collection Digital Programme






Recital of music by Sweelinck

 Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 16:30 

Performed on the 1624 Scherer organ at St Stephan's Church, Tangermunde, not far from Berlin. 

Sankt Stephan Tangermünde | 39590 Tangermünde | Pfarrhof 6, Specification on http://

I am looking forward very much to giving a recital next month on the new Goetze and Gwynn organ at All Saints church, Odiham Hampshire. It is based on early 18th century English organs, mainly the Bernard Smith organs at St Mary Finedon in Northamptonshire and Great St Mary's in Cambridge, and the Gerard Smith organ at St Lawrence Whitchurch in Middlesex.

The case design is derived partly from the 1662 organ case formerly in Lincoln Cathedral (thanks to Robert Pacey who first gave us copies of the drawings of this case).

The programme will include works by John Blow, Purcell, Roseingrave, Handel and Nares.

The recital, part of the day organised by the British Institute of Organ Studies, is on Saturday 21 July at 11am. Admission is free (for recital only).

All Saints Church, 2 Church St, Odiham, Hook, Hampshire RG29 1LU
Specification on
London Handel Festival Recital
Buy tickets for this event
Wednesday, 28 March 2012 at 7.00pm. St George's Hanover Square, George Street, London, W1S 1FX
Talk by Dominic Gwynn on the chamber
organ in Georgian musical life.
Organ Recital by Robert Woolley
The organ is based on the chamber organs of Richard Bridge
and Thomas Parker, who built the organ which belonged to
Charles Jennens, the librettist of Messiah, which still exists
close to its original condition.
The programme will include works by:
Thomas Roseingrave
(organist of St George's
William Walond
Maurice Greene
John James
Starling Goodwin

and James Nares

Tickets: £12 unreserved seating; students free - buy on the door
and please give details of your student card.

Subscription discount
if booked for your use before 14 March
- 3 or more concerts - see option below.

You can also buy on the door from 6.15pm on the day if
you haven't booked in advance.

Doors open at 6.15pm.
Choosing your ticket: Please locate your login details or register
if you are a new customer. Choose your seat when you arrive.

General note: Some seats that appear to be reserved have been
blocked off for postal and telephone bookings but until we have
done the final processing they will not appear as sold on the plan.

For detailed booking information please go to the Booking Information page.

If you book 4 days before this performance tickets will probably not be sent out.
Please bring your email confirmation on the day, for all performances,
in case there has not been time to print out your tickets.

Booking starts on Wednesday 25th of January 2012 at 10:00 AM
JS Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier Book 1
Robert Woolley, clavichord

Played on a clavichord by Karin Richter copied from an anonymous unfretted clavichord c.1730 from the Dresden region.


J S Bach Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1
Robert Woolley, clavichord
October 29 2011, Quaker Meeting House, Oxford

The clavichord is a demanding instrument: to produce a good sound, one must think carefully about each note, and play it with just the right amount of pressure. So playing 24 preludes and fugues in one afternoon is a major task requiring the utmost concentration. It was triumphantly accomplished by Robert Woolley on October 29 in the Quaker Meeting House.

Hearing Book 1 as a whole was a revelation. The preludes are all so different, and so beautiful; and the fugues help to bind the preludes together into a single structure of alternating formal and informal pieces. Though, Bach being Bach, the formal-informal alternation is not quite regular; for example, Prelude 7 is in fact a toccata and fugue - and a substantial 4-part fugue at that - while Fugue 7 is light and scherzo-like.

The different characters of the pieces were well brought out in this performance. Each musical line was clear, intelligible, and beautifully shaped, even in the complex four- and five-part fugues, and the structure of each piece was made clear by subtle pauses for breath at key points - yet the feeling of forward movement was never lost, even in the more thoughtful cantabile pieces. I particularly enjoyed the last few bars of each item; there are so many ways of approaching the end: various degrees of slowing down, perhaps followed by a crisp cadence, or going full speed to the end, to name but a few. Woolley used a great variety of approaches, always beautifully managed, making me smile every time.

The Karin Richter clavichord 2009 (copied from an anonymous unfretted clavichord c.1730 from the Dresden region) sounded clear and beautiful in the wood-panelled Meeting Room, and it was an ideal medium for this music. A harpsichord can sound ravishingly beautiful, but it’s arguable that the Well-Tempered Clavier is better served by a less strongly flavoured sound. I was reminded of the old saying “with the harpsichord you listen to the instrument; with the clavichord you hear the music”.

David Griffel


British Clavichord Society Event

Anonymous clavichord from the Dresden area c.1730, Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Keyboard Instruments.


Robert Woolley ~ Organ ~ St George's, Southall

Organ by Abraham Jordan 1723, restored by Mander Organs 2009

‘The Georgian Organ’

Music by Handel, Maurice Greene, William Boyce, Thomas Roseingrave, John James, William Walond, Starling Goodwin.


Sunday 10 July at 12.45pm

Admission free – retiring collection  
Light lunch included and available from 12.15pm

St George's Church, Lancaster Road, Southall, Middx. UB1 1NP 

Click here for more information


Robert Woolley ~ Organ ~ Christ's Chapel, Dulwich

Organ by G.P.England 1760, restored by William Drake

The Georgian Organ

Handel: Fugues,  Jesu, Meine Freude, a Voluntary on a Flight of Angels, & Voluntaries by James Nares, Thomas Roseingrave & William Walond

Sunday 5 June at 7.45pm

Admission free – retiring collection

Christ's Chapel, Gallery Road, Dulwich, London SE21
Nearest mainline: North Dulwich - 12 minute walk, 
West Dulwich - 15 minute walk
Nearest bus stop: P4 College Road - 30 second walk

Road map here:


Robert Woolley ~ Organ ~ St Botolph's, Aldgate

Organ by Renatus Harris 1702, restored Goetze & Gwynn 2005-6

Programme includes:

Handel: Overture from Ottone (arr Handel), Fugues,
 Jesu, Meine Freude, A Voluntary on a Flight of Angels,

& Voluntaries by Boyce, Roseingrave, Starling Goodwin, Greene, Kendall , Roseingrave, Nares, Walond.

Wednesday 1 June at 7pm

Admission free – retiring collection

St Botolph’s Aldgate, Aldgate High Street , London , EC3N 1AB
Nearest tubes: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Information and map on

Details of the organ and recorded interviews with Dominic Gwynn about the restoration of the organ on:

Click here to see flyer

The Queen's Medal for Music

Dame Emma Kirkby has been awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music for 2010.
She will be presented with the Medal at a private audience with the Queen later this year.

Dame Emma is the sixth winner of the award which was introduced in 2005 and is made annually to an individual (or group of musicians) judged to have had a major influence on the musical life of the nation.  Previous winners are Sir Charles Mackerras (2005), Bryn Terfel (2006), Professor Judith Weir (2007), Kathryn Tickell (2008) and Sir Colin Davis (2009).
back to top


Latest CD release - click here for information and sound files
Sweelinck, Works for Keyboard, Volume 2
Chandos Records, CHAN 0758

Follow the link above to hear extracts from Robert Woolley's latest recording of Sweelinck, CHAN 0758


A rich, rewarding brew of imaginative harpsichord music, expertly played.....without forcing the pace, he shows brilliant fingerwork in Esce Mars or a piece like the Toccata C2, and achieves clarity and composure in the more melodically driven works.   These are pleasingly natural performances.  There is not much competition in the world of Sweelinck recordings, but this stands out as an excellent harpsichord release in its own right. 
The Gramophone, June 2009 
Click here for full review

Those who didn't splash out on Radio Netherlands' nine-disc set of Sweelinck's complete keyboard music in 2002 will be watching the development of Robert Woolley's Sweelinck series with interest.

The gem of this volume is the "Paduana Lachrymae", its sharp sighs gently yet deliberately laid bare on Adlam Burnett's copy of a 1611 Ruckers muselar virginal. On this and in the grandest Toccatas and the smiling variations of "Die flichtig Nimphae", Woolley's playing is unfailingly illuminating.

Reviewed by Anna Picard, The Independent, Sunday 24 May 2009

Click here for a link to a larger image

In 1604 the city organist of Amsterdam, Jan Pietersz. Sweelinck, travelled to Antwerp to order a new clavichord for the town hall from the famous Ruckers family. 
Shortly after its arrival, the city council asked Pieter Isaacsz to decorate the instrument. A design for the decoration was commissioned from the author and artist Karel van Mander. At the left of this 'Allegory of Amsterdam as the Centre of World Trade' is the personification of Amsterdam and beside her, Neptune. Two female figures offer her a ship and a string of pearls, symbolising navigation and wealth. She is holding her left hand over a celestial globe.  A globe is a sphere representing the earth or one of the planets. A scale model globe would often be mounted on a stand to be placed on a table and turned on its axis., which two sailors at the right are consulting with nautical instruments.


Robert Woolley plays Handel, Boyce, Goodwin, Kendall, Nares, Walond on the Renatus Harris Organ, 1702
Click here to read concert information



Programme -
11.00 Registration & Coffee
11.30 Introduction to the organ and its restoration Linda Heath, Sally Drage and Dominic Gwynn
13.00 Lunch (please specify dietary requirements below)
14.00 The world of the Georgian parish church organist Dominic Gwynn
14.30 The contribution of the organ to congregational singing and parish life in Georgian England
Sally Drage (co-editor Musica Britannica vol.85 Eighteenth Century Psalmody)
15.30 Tea
16.00 Organ concert by Robert Woolley
17.00 Close
St Mary & St Nicholas, Leatherhead, Surrey has an 18th Century organ by Thomas Parker (1766) recovered from the remains of the fire damaged 1873 Walker pipe organ (II/14) and restored by Goetze & Gwynn Ltd (2007). The stoplist is based on the surviving Great windchest, and the entry in the Walker shopbooks, when they moved the organ to Leatherhead in 1843. 

Original pipework which has survived has been incorporated. The Trumpet is new, based on the surviving Parker Trumpet in the organ at St Mary's, Barnsley and  Church, Spitalfields. The case is new, using the dimensions in the Walker shopbooks, and the sketch in the Sperling Notebooks, with reference to surviving contemporary cases.
Booking form and map etc, is on -
Further details can be found on - and

Stop Press
English Heritage Logo


Portrait of Blow by John Riley reproduced by kind permission of Helga Blow Perera
"I have been working with English Heritage towards the installation of 
a Blue Plaque to John Blow at Beveree, his house in Hampton: English 
Heritage has now shortlisted this for full historical research, 
including a detailed investigation into Blow's surviving London 
addresses and their suitability for commemoration.
A report will be submitted to English Heritage as soon as possible 
after this investigation is complete, and will be posted here.  Please 
watch this space !"
Concerts this season include: St John's Smith Square, London; The University Church, Oxford, West Horsley; Robinson College, Cambridge; Internationale Orgelwoche, Waldshut; Kingston upon Thames Parish Church; Ergue Gaberic, Gumiliau, Brittany; Flanders Festival; Dartmouth Festival; Cobbe Collection, Hatchlands Park; Dunblane Cathedral;
Repertoire includes:
Louis Couperin
- Newly discovered and transcribed organ works

Sweelinck - Fantasias, Variations, Toccatas for harpsichord and organ
JS Bach - Piece d'Orgue (early version after JJ Walther)
back to top


Robert Woolley is well known as a harpsichord and organ soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player: his acclaimed solo recordings include discs of harpsichord, organ and fortepiano works by Tallis, Gibbons, Byrd, Frescobaldi, Purcell, Weckmann, Bohm, Handel, Bach, Scarlatti and Seixas for EMI, Virgin, Archiv, Hyperion, and Chandos, including discs of the Partitas by J.S. Bach for Chandos.
He has given performances in the UK, USA, South America, Japan, Austria, France, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and was artist-in-residence at Washington University, St. Louis. He regularly broadcasts for the BBC, and programmes have included many recordings on historic organs, harpsichords and fortepianos. 
His recording of Sweelinck's complete keyboard works is in progress, playing the 17th century van Hagerbeer organ at the Pieterskerk in Leiden, ( copies by Malcolm Rose and Andrew Garlick of harpsichords by Ludowic Theewes, a virginals by David Evans after Hans Grawels and a muselaar by Adlam Burnett after Ruckers, and the 1623 Hans Scherer organ in Tangermunde, a historic town on the Elbe River, in the district of Stendal, in Saxony-Anhalt.
Earlier this year Robert gave a recital at Buckingham Palace of music composed for the First Hanoverian Monarchs, playing an instrument commissioned by Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1740, which is now part of the Royal Collection of Her Majesty the Queen.  He also made recordings of this instrument that can be heard on

He also took part in a short film about the collection with Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, on

Robert made a solo tour of the USA this year, including concerts at St Thomas's Church,  New York, Charlottesville, and Newark, and gave a recital and masterclasses on the 2014 Oundle Organ Week in the Oundle International Festival.
He is professor of harpsichord, clavichord and continuo at the Royal College of Music, London (}, and also works with students privately.
back to top


Robert Woolley co-founded the Purcell Quartet in 1984, with which he has made many recordings for Chandos, including the complete concertos for harpsichords by J.S.Bach. The Quartet regularly tours Europe, the USA, South America and Japan and has played at most of the major UK and European Festivals.  They gave a concert of Bach Cantatas in London at The Wigmore Hall on 28 July 2000, the 250th anniversary of Bach's death.  Their recording with Emma Kirkby of cantatas by Buxtehude was released last year.  


The Purcell Quartet celebrated twenty years music making in February 2004 at the Wigmore Hall, with friends and collaborators.

The programme included the first UK performance of a reconstruction for pedal harpsichord of J.S.Bach's Fantasia in G BWV 572 - see below.

back to top




The recording of Sweelinck I made last summer has been released by Chandos Records.  This offers the unique recreation of Sweelinck's soundworld and was made on the magnificent large 17th century organ built by van Hagerbeer in the Pieterskerk, Leiden, which has recently undergone an enormously complex restoration by Verschueren Orgelbouw back to its original 17th century form.  It is currently the largest organ in the world tuned in meantone temperament, and has some of the earliest speaking pipes in existence, dating from a previous instrument in the Pieterskerk built in 1446.
Click here for more information on this CD
Click on the icons below to hear extracts from Robert Woolley's Chandos Recording of Sweelinck  


   Psalm 140

Buy this CD or order direct from Chandos 0701

Click here for track information and sound samples
"(Robert Woolley) rises magnificently to all the technical challenges posed by this attractive and well planned programme"
Elizabeth Roche - Daily Telegraph - Click here for full review
Click on the icons below to hear extracts from Robert Woolley's Chandos Recording of Bach Partita No.4 CHAN 0618




Buy this CD
Click here for track information
Click here to view a complete list of CDs.
back to top



Robert can be contacted by email on:
info@ (please type into your email server)

Link to online catalogue of Robert's Chandos CDs
Chandos Recordings

Harpsichord Services of London - Claire Hammett


This page is brought to you by: