Judit Angster, Josef Angster and András Miklós

Acoustic Measurements and Investigations of Organ Pipes

The authors have been engaged in acoustic research on th pipe organ for many years. Their investigations are carried out in close co-operation with organbuilders. This is a general report about the research programme, with an account of some interesting investigations and their results.

What influence does the vibration of the pipe wall exert on the sound quality of flue pipes? The particular vibrations of the pipe wall of a Principal 8ft G pipe were measured by modal analysis. The vibrations produced in the pipe wall were investigated in five almost identical pipes (4ft C Principal): three pipes had a similar tin/lead content but different wall thicknesses; three pipes had similar wall thicknesses but different tin/lead content (one pipe belonged to both groups). The results do not yet allow the above question to be clearly answered. It is possibly to establish, among other things, that a vibration resonance in the pipe wall must not occur in the neighbourhood of a partial tone, since otherwise a very unpleasant beat will occur.

How can the character of the sound be judged subjectively and objectively? According to the results of research in psycho-acoustics, tone quality is chiefly influenced by the onset of the sound. In order to analyse the onset of the sound of a pipe, a method of measurement was worked out. It was stablished that the sounds of pipes can be well represented and described by means of the analysis of the onset, in a manner that would enable them to be reproduced.

How is the sound of the pipe influenced by the amount of wind pressure? The objective and subjective influence of wind pressure alterations on the sound of a pipe was discussed. In accordance with the measurements, a computer model was worked out, whereby an organ with mechanical action and slider chests is described, and the situation at the foot can be investigated. From the time when the key is pressed, the upper surface of the opened pallet, the gradual falling off of wind pressure in the channel and at the foot, and the speed of the wind stream through the foot hole and at the languid, were all calculated. With such a model it is possible to replace certain experiments, thereby saving time and money.

This research was carried out not only in order to gain better knowledge of the physics of the organ, but also in order to help organbuilders with their practical problems. The experience of organbuilders, gathered over centuries, could be better explained with the help of objective investigations.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 151-176]


Werner Biebl

Pest Control for Organ Wood

In order to avoid toxic effects on humans and chemical reactions with the metal parts of organs, the preferred method today for use against the various wood destroying pests is that of inert gases or those with low levels of reactivity such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The organ is wrapped in a thin layer of foil to create an airtight seal.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 283-284]


Bernhard Billeter

The Use of Organs with a Limited Pedal Range

In the region of the Alps up until the end of the 19th c., organs were built with a much smaller range than today. The pedalboards had mostly a chromatic range from C to f°. Quite often there were only 12 pitches available, so that in the pedals above c°, the pitches of the lower octave were repeated. Many organists today express the wish that the range should be extended. Such thoughts however are questionable in the eyes of historical organ preservationists. For not only is the original building material endangered by such an expansion, but also due to the limited space inside the organ often the external appearance of the instrument is affected as well.

Nevertheless, it is altogether possible on such organs not only to perform pieces which are playable on the manuals alone or require only a few pedal pitches (e. g. South German organ music of the 17th and 18th centuries), but also works from later times that demand a much wider pedal range. It is in fact possible with many pieces to play the pedal pitches in the higher region an octave lower. This practice can be supported by the examples of Joh. Sebastian Bach and César Franck, who themselves had to come to terms with organs of various ranges in both the manuals and the pedal.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 295-302]


Hilary Davidson and Michael Latham

The Organ in the Private Chapel at Althorp House.
An Example of British Chamber Organs

Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century inventories of royal palaces and great houses often include organs; and from the very few that survive of this date, it is clear that most of the pipes, even of chorus-stops, were often of wood. The organ was often used as continuo for concerted music. During the eighteenth century, with the beginning of the Enlightenment and the romantic movement, chamber-organs began to take on many of the features of the church organs - notably in compass and tonal design. In 1680, such an organ might have 8', 4', 2', II stops, with compass C-c3, 49 notes: by 1780, it was likely to have compass GG-f3, 58 notes, and to have stops of 8', 8', 8', 4', 4', 2', with perhaps a divided Mixture of III ranks. The second and third registers of 8' would have no bass pipes, these being provided by the universal stopped wood rank. Venetian or jalousie swells were introduced about this time, and it was often possible to silence the chorus-stops by means of a second set of sliders worked by a pedal. The bellows were served by another pedal lying along the front of the case, on which the player used his right foot. The case-pipes were usually wooden dummies, and all the speaking pipes were on, or very near, the soundboards.

During the second half of the nineteenth century fashions changed, and it was no longer popular to have small organs in houses. Because many smaller churches had no organ up to this date, many chamber-organs were presented to them - and were in fact quite satisfactory for accompanying choirs. But organ-building had moved on, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century organists had different styles of playing from those of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The organs were often altered to fit these changed circumstances, in these ways.- Pedal-boards, usually of 30 notes from C, concave and radiating as advised by the Royal College of Organists, were added and the lower cases mutilated to fit them: the bottom notes of the original GG compass were removed (or occasionally merely silenced), and a set of Bourdon pedal pipes on a new soundboard behind the case, appeared. This pedal-board meant that the organist could no longer blow himself; so the original wind-system had to be replaced, of course with a 'modern' horizontal reservoir, and feeders worked by a handle. Tonally, the Mixture and other upper-work might be removed as being 'too shrill', being replaced by Gambas (of course with no bass) or flutes. With no supervisory system as existed in Germany (and exists in England now) almost any mutilation of the instruments was possible.

When the Earl Spencer installed an early nineteenth-century chamber-organ in the chapel of his house at Althorp near Northampton in 1992, he took his place in a long history of such small British organs.

The chamber-organ now at Althorp was discovered in the parish church of Meriden near Coventry; both its builder and original home are unknown, but it seems to date from about 1810-1815. The alterations carried out on it were probably carried out by J. Charles Lee, a local organ-builder in a small way of business at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. At his hands the organ had suffered many of the alterations described above - the bass compass was shortened to C, (though the soundboard remains intact) and a thirty-note pedal-board added, complete with Bourdon; new bellows; and many of the treble pipes replaced with others of a later date, to obtain more power; and the electric blower, too large for its job.

Michael Latham has put right what he could from a conservationist point of view: the pedals have gone, and the lower panels of the case have been repaired and replaced; soundboard restored, pallets re-leathered, and bass half-octave of kets replaced - we all look forward to the time when the pipes belonging to them can be made and inserted. The bellows have been re-leathered, and all pipes have been cleaned and set on speech. The organ is much appreciated by all who hear it.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 97-104]


Hermann Fischer

Facade Pipes Made from Wood

The technique of making pipes out of wood (or also from metal) covered with a tin or silver foil is very old and was very widespread. Normally the wood surface (or also that of a lead pipe) to which the foil is applied has been smoothed and a layer of primer applied. With very large wooden pipes, the tin plates were also nailed into place. The occurrence of wooden pipes with a tin covering was limited both chronologically and geographically. We find such pipes in Northern Hesse, Southern Thuringia, Mainfranken and in the middle Rhine region, less often in Swabia and Old Bavaria. The origin of this practice is surely tied to the placing of the large pedal facades (as so-called Harfenfelder) to the left and right of the main facade. This development began most likely in Mainfranken at the end of the 17th century and spread both north and west from there. Since such pipes were clearly less expensive than tin pipes, we are dealing with a phenomenon of a regional nature, chosen as a solution based on reasons of economy.

The wooden facades must not be confused with the so-called "wooden organs" (organa lignea), which one finds in the period between ca. 1490 and 1630. These organs (e. g. the organ of the Silbernen Kapelle in Innsbruck) arose as a result of the influence of the Italian renaissance.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 267-274]


Hermann Fischer and Theodor Wohnhaas

The History of the Organ in Meinheim (Mittelfranken)

The Lutheran church in Meinheim acquired its first organ in 1715. The builder was the school teacher Matthias Stahl who - as was not uncommon during that time - was an organ builder in addition to his main profession. His organ had eight manual stops and two pedal stops. The organ front was flat, divided into three sections, with the middle section being the highest. Especially noteworthy was the fact that Stahl had already planned for a free-standing console. Several other organs by Stahl are well-known, including: Weissenburg, school (1721), Aha (1722), Auenheim (1724) and Hüssingen (1732).

In 1757 the Stahl organ was replaced by a new instrument built by Caspar Moritz Nössler (Heilsbronn), which had ten manual stops and two pedal stops. The five-section front with two round towers is still in existence. The old organ was sold to the church in Hechlingen.

The Nössler organ was rebuilt in 1884 by G. F. Steinmeyer & Co. (Oettingen). It was to be replaced with a new instrument in 1921, but due to an extraordinary successful renovation in 1929 was able to be saved once again. Not until 1948 was a new organ (II/17) installed inside the previously existing case by G. F. Steinmeyer & Co.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 61-70]


Friedrich Jakob

Mechanical Actions for Pneumatic Organs?

The imprecise functioning of pneumatic organs is not the fault of the pneumatic wind chests (which normally work very precisely), but rather of the pneumatic action, which through the lack of wind pressure in the long, narrow lead pipes and through the relays between them causes a hesitation. Attempts have been made to improve the precision of pneumatic organs through electrification of the action. Another possibility is mechanization. In this way, the wind chests remain pneumatic. The console and the adjoining action is mechanical, until the point where it reaches a small wind chest. Only the short distance between the small wind chest (with the function of a relay) and the actual wind chest is bridged by short lead pipes. This system is suitable for a variety of pneumatic wind chests. It is, to be sure, not a cure all; but some organs which otherwise would be torn down can be saved by this method.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 249-254]


Martin Kares

Basic Prerequisites for Restorations

In restorations, used materials play a large role. In order to assure that optimal solutions are possible, the corresponding basic prerequisites must be met. The constructive prerequisites are determined by the site, the architectural design, the construction and the technical system of the organ. Climate related prerequisites are determined by unalterable (exterior climate and interior climate) and alterable factors (heating system). Prerequisites which are tied up with the use of the instrument come out of the type and frequency of the demands made on it (worship services, concerts). Financial prerequisites show where the dividing line is between that which is wished for and that which is possible.

These basic prerequisites in their totality are quite effective. By restorations, they should be improved if possible for the benefit of the historical instruments.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 233-237]


Sixtus Lampl

Historical Organ Preservation and an Organ Museum

The museum in Schloss Valley (Upper Bavaria) was built by the author himself, and was created in order to save historical organs which for one reason or another can no longer remain at their original site (church, concert hall). Since its foundation more than 40 complete instruments have been brought together as well as a great assortment of consoles and other organ components. The museum has several large halls; a few instruments (from a positiv up to an organ with 42 stops) are exhibited in a playable state. They are open to inspection and are used often for concerts.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 285-294]


Gottfried Rehm

Contributions to the History of the Organ Builders in Fulda and in the Rhön Region

1. Laurentius Daum (ca. 1495-1543)
Daum was a priest, organist, organ teacher and organ builder. He worked as an organ builder in Saxony, Thuringia, Nassau and in the area near Fulda.

2. Johann Bräler (Brehler)
It is likely that he received his training from the Oestreich organ building family. Five organs of his are known to exist.

3. Johann Georg Faust (1781-1849)
He also possibly learned his trade with the Oesterreich family. We only know of repair work that was done by him.

4. The Organ Building Family Hey
Approximately one dozen organs of Wilhelm Hey (1840-1921) are extant. Otto Hey (1875-1946) worked during difficult economic times. Erich Hey (1906-1962) built organs with cone chests and free-pipe facades. His sons Wolfgang (1929-1997) and Gerhard (b. 1934) built organs with slider chests and closed cases. Today the fifth generation is active: Herbert (b. 1954) and Erhard Hey (b. 1958).

5. Adolph Rieschick (1820-1904)
He was originally active in Westphalia and lived in Fulda after 1875. Besides repair work, only two of his organs are known to exist.

6. Alban Späth (1898-1972)
The son of Hermann Späth in Füssen. He worked since 1914 in Fulda, where he lived after 1929. In cooperation with the firm Späth in Ennetach he built over 200 organs, since 1960 with slider chests and cases.

7. Klaus Gabriel (b. 1949)
In 1974 he took over a subsidiary of the firm Kreienbrink (Osnabrück-Hellern); since 1980 he has worked independently.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 29-60]


Peter Reichert

Tactus, Tempo and Proportion in the Organ Music of the Early Baroque Era

This work deals with questions of performance practice concerning tempi and proportions in seventeenth-century organ-music. Reference points can be found for the choice of tempo and for the movement intended by the composer. Of course this goal is not only to be gained by reliance on our modern instincts; we are therefore dependent on historical and theoretical considerations. The applicaton of theoretical principles to the music of a particular country, epech, style or composer normally allows some simplification, in order to transfer 'gray theory' to living music. Much must be left to the player and his 'musically healthy common-sense'. Academic correctness in itself is no guarantee of a musically compelling interpretation.

The doctrine of proportions developed from the reference point of an unalterable time value, the 'integer valor notarum'. The change from even (binary) to uneven (ternary) division of the beat, or the change in the note values which apply to the beat, indicates the possibiliy of noting a change of tempo. Signs of diminution, augmentation and proportion can alter the 'integer valor'; they thus represent variations of a constant ground movement, and thereby establish tempo relations. In this special sense they are somewhat equivalent to 'metronome marks' for early music.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 203-222]


Hartwig Späth

A Note On the Restoration and Enlargement of the Altglashütten and Bühl-Neusatz Organs

Both organs were originally single-manual instruments with mechanical cone-valve chests. The task which the organ builder was assigned to perform was the same in both cases: The present instrument is to be restored, and in addition, a second manual is to be installed as a Swell. For this Swell, instead of the slider chest which is normally used nowadays, a new mechanical cone-valve chest was built to match the already existing chest. No major difficulties arose during the voicing of the isntrument. Occasionally a rather loud rushing noise was heard in the pipes, which is probably due to the long and angular pathway from the pallet to the pipe. The tuning slots are important, which give the principal voices their typical horn-like sound and result in a more precise attack from the string stops. To be sure, they must be quite thin in order to function correctly. In the voicing process, more and at the same time larger nicks are necessary than would be used for a slider chest.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 261-266]


Hans-Wolfgang Theobald

Mechanical Action in Eighteenth-century Organs.
Some Observations on Instruments in South-Germany and Bohemia

Towards the end of the XVIIth century a new development appeared: organ cases were divided into two or more parts, in order not to cover up the window at the back of the church. This innovation first appeared in Bohemia/Moravia (Abraham Stark) and spread throughout the Habsburg monarchy, into Franconia and, to a lesser extent, Poland, but especially into South-Germany and Switzerland. North-western examples are to be found in Köln and Brühl. In Strasburg the French-style instruments of the Silbermann family did not yield to this innovation. However, the following organ-builders did: Sieber in Brno, Seuffert in Würzburg, Hencke and Sonnholz in Vienna, Bossardt in St. Gallen, Gabler, Höss and Holzhey in Oberschwaben. The zenith of this development is the organ in Weingarten. During the XVIIIth century the organ became progressively a part of the surrounding architecture. A separate console was no longer unusual; the Rückpositiv was abandoned; Hauptwerk, Oberwerk and Echo were often contained in the main case, which thus allowed some subtle tonal differences.

The following mechanical techniques became necessary:
1. rollerboards;
2. trackers leading off at 90°;
3. oblique positioning of squares;
4. horizontal positioning of squares;
5. rollerframes;
6. tracker-registers in various designs.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 105-124]


Klaus Walter

The Urban Kreutzbach Organ in the St. Nicholai Church in Geithain and its Early History (1842-1847)

Urban Kreutzbach (1796-1868) was the founder of a prominent organ building workshop in Borna, near Leipzig. In the years from 1845 to 1847, he built a new organ (II/29) for the town church of Geithain. The eventful early history of this organ offers an interesting glimpse into the state of organ building in Saxony in the middle of the 19th century. No fewer than twelve organ builders were involved through the consultation und bidding process in the development of the final stoplist.

The organ was converted to pneumatic action in 1902 by Alfred Schmeisser (Rochlitz). It was expanded and fitted with "Membranladen" and a new facade, built in Art-Nouveau style. In the process, Schmeisser reused many of Kreutzbach's stops.

[Acta Organologica 25, 1997, 71-86]