The Organ Builder Christoph Opitz of Dobra (1813-1885)
Christoph Opitz learned the craft of organ building from Hartmann Bernhard (1773-1839) in Romrod, near Alsfeld (Hesse). In 1839, together with Joh. Georg Markert, he completed the last organ of his late master in Ober-Hörgern. Thereafter, he established himself in Dobra (Kreis Altenburger Land). He built his first organ in 1844 for the Lutheran church in Mehna (2 manuals, 13 stops); in 1879 he delivered his last organ to Jauern (1 manual, 6 stops). Opitz' oeuvre comprises a total of 33 instruments; of these, 21 are two-manual organs (11-26 stops).
His eldest son, Carl Friedrich Edmund (1846-1925) apprenticed organ building; however, he later became an innkeeper. The younger son, Karl Friedrich Bruno (1850-1878), also an organ builder, died at an early age of typhus. Christoph Opitz, suffering from sickness and depression, ultimately hung himself.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 243-288]
The Organ of the Old Concert Hall in Neumünster Zürich
In 1872, Johann Nepomuk Kuhn built a concert organ for the Concert Hall (the so-called "Old Concert Hall") in Zürich (2 manuals, 30 stops. The organ was transferred in 1895 to the "New Concert Hall". This instrument was enlarged in 1927 to three manuals and 70 stops and modified again in 1939 and 1951. In 1987, it had to give way to a new organ (built by the firms Steinmeyer and Kleuker). It finally found a new home in the Neumünsterkirche, where it was installed by the firm Th. Kuhn (Männedorf) and dedicated in 1995. Due to the different dimensions of the space, the total number of stops had to be reduced to 52 (cf. article by same author, in: AOl 22, 1991, pp. 359-370).
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 39-46]
Anton Bruckner and France
The subject here is the attempt to present concert reviews and other news reports about the stays of Anton Bruckner in Nancy and Paris within a larger context, and thereby to supplement earlier publications.
Bruckner's participation in the organ dedication in Saint-Epvre (Nancy) was especially reported by the local press. The Paris press corp also took notice of this event, even if only in the form of reprints of other stories.
It was principally through the efforts of Eduard Hanslick that Bruckner was persuaded to take part in the concerts of the organ dedication. Hanslick, who belonged to the organ commission, was able to prepare him for his task by means of his excellent language abilities. Bruckner was involved in both dedication concerts (28 and 29 April, 1869). He had signed onto the rather generally held judgement of the organ commission on 27 April.
The article in the «Réforme Musicale» (reprinted in the Lothringen «Espérance») is the singular reference to Bruckner's activity in Paris (1 - 17 May, 1869). Besides at the firm Merklin-Schütze and Notre-Dame, he is supposed to have played at Trinité and at Saint-Sulpice on the Cavaillé-Coll organs. Merklin-Schütze had invited Bruckner so that he could both familiarize himself with and provide a demonstration of their new products (smaller and more economical instruments). Renaud de Vilbac, who at that time was highly esteemed, had evidently recommended his Austrian colleague as a demonstration organist. Bruckner performed at Merklin-Schütze together with the blind organist and composer Pierre Edouard Hocmelle, who had approximately the same stylistic tendencies as Renaud de Vilbac. Alexis Chauvet, concert organist at Trinité, who gave Bruckner his improvisational theme at Notre-Dame, was entrusted with the works of J. S. Bach, and provided substantial compositions as the named French colleague. He may possibly have invited Bruckner to play the organ at Trinité. Camille Saint-Saëns and César Franck were also among Bruckner's admirers.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 11-38]
Organs and Barrel Organs from Pekarov.
The Work of the Kolb Family
As a continuation of the Baroque organ building tradition, several small workshops sprang up in Mähren (Moravia) in the 18th century. In spite of strong competition (Rieger in Jägerndorf [Krnov], Brauner in Unicov and Neusser in Neutitschein [Nový Jicín]) they were able to survive. Decisive factors were not only their low prices but also their artistic taste and their honesty.
This can be seen quite well with the organ building family Kolb in Pekarov [Beckengrund]. Franz Kolb (1843-1922) began in 1864 with the production of barrel organs. In 1875 he built his first organ. After 1887, he had the assistance of his three sons, Josef (1866-1938), Franz (1868-1940) and Johann (1870-1947). The firm bore the name "Franz Kolb & Sons, Beckengrund". In 1914 the father retired and thereafter the firm was called "Franz Kolb's Sons". At this time, four grandchildren were also assisting in the work. The firm flourished until 1939.
From the beginning, barrel organs were made of two types: pipe and reed instruments of various sizes. The number of pieces produced between 1864 and 1939 was in the thousands. The instruments were not only shipped and sold in various European countries, but also in America and Asia.
At this time, 17 organs are known to exist which can be traced back to the Kolb workshop. These are small instruments, at first made with slider chests and mechanical actions, later with cone chests. They were made with consummate skill; entire mechanisms function reliably up to the present day. With the early façades, a tasteful romantic tendency predominated, while in the last three decades, the cases exhibited an artistically fine baroque form. In terms of their sound and dispositions, the organs - with the exception of the two first ones, which were influenced by baroque examples - can be classified as being of the conventional romantic variety.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 319-344]
Experiences with a Restored Historical Organ as a Concert Instrument
The author is organist at the "Schlosskirche" in Altenburg. The instrument there was originally built between 1735 and 1739 by Heinrich Gottfried Trost; it was restored and partially reconstructed from 1974 to 1976 by the firm Eule (Bautzen). Every organist who plays on such an organ must adjust himself to the available range of possibilities and be prepared, if necessary, to arrange parts of a certain composition so that they are able to be performed. He will then be ready to take full advantage of the rich tonal resources of the instrument. Polyphonic structures and dissonances are particularly effective in this respect. For this reason, well-known composers have produced 22 works especially for this organ since 1979.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 175-180]
Future Organs for the Frauenkirche in Dresden.
Aspects - Functions - Concepts
The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in Dresden was built between 1726 and 1743 after plans by George Bähr and other well known artists; it was destroyed in 1945. After now being rebuilt "in close imitation of the original plans" and "in accordance with the principles of archaeological reconstruction", the reproduction of the baroque interior and the Gottfried Silbermann organ (1736) will also be attempted. The following reasons support doing so:
1. With the original interior architecture, the famous acoustics of this space can be recreated.
2. The organ case and the altar reredos create an architectonic unity. A new façade or an organ in modern style behind the Bähr façade would stand in contrast to the overall concept.
3. Other Dresden churches offer numerous opportunities for constructing organs of differing designs.
4. The organs of Gottfried Silbermann are for the most part in good condition and can serve as a means of comparison.
5. The requirements of the main organ (use in liturgy and concerts) would certainly be fulfilled by use of a suitable replica.
For other tasks, smaller instruments can be placed in various locations within the church.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 143-156]
Hans Gerd Klais
Reconstruction of Historical Organs.
Experiences - Tendencies
The reconstruction of an organ can, if nothing else, serve to document the state of knowledge at a particular moment in time; one could never speak of a "perfect" result in comparison with the original, not to mention recreating the "soul" of the instrument. It is nothing other than the interpretation of historical data. Belief in the ability to return a long lost original to new life is little more than a pipe dream. The author suggests for the new organ in the Dresden Frauenkirche a reconstruction of the Silbermann façade, the Silbermann stop list and the old "Kammerton-Stimmung" (a half-tone lower than the modern standard pitch). On the other hand, modern technical possibilities should be employed: not a strict restoration, but rather a new creation, which would also be fitting for the music of our time.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 157-164]
The Wilhelm Sauer Organ of the Reformed Church in Ronsdorf
In 1908 Wilhelm Sauer (Frankfurt an der Oder) built an organ with 30 stops distributed between two manuals and pedal (cone chest, pneumatic action) for the Reformed Church in Ronsdorf (a part of the locality of Wuppertal since 1929). This late romantic instrument (Sauer-Opus 126) survived both world wars with negligible damage.
In the course of a church renovation project in 1947, the darkly stained wood of the open-top case was redone in a light gray color. At the same time an ornamental metal band was removed which had held together the three parts of the organ front. In 1955 the dilapidated reservoir was taken out of use and 18 years later was dismantled. The original electric blower was replaced by another and this in turn was replaced in 1973. Neither this blower nor a newly installed one intended as a substitute for the schwimmer bellows which had fed the reservoir guaranteed sufficient wind supply to the organ.
Since the end of the 1960's, worn out puffer pouches resulted in delayed attacks or loss of tones; it was therefore considered whether to convert from a pneumatic to an electric action. The plan, however, was not fulfilled on conservational grounds. In 1984 an attempt was made to improve the functioning of the pouches by means of an increase in wind pressure. A higher stress level on the pouch leather and a loss of tonal beauty as a consequence of the excessively loud organ sound were the results.
A restoration of the instrument in 1995 by the present-day firm of Sauer (since 1994 in Müllrose near Frankfurt a. d. Oder) encompassed both the reconstruction of the wind apparatus and the reduction of the wind pressure to 103 mm (Swell, Pedal, action) and 87 mm (Great). Also included in the restoration were the replacement of all puffer pouches in the key and stop actions, new intonation of the original pipes and repair work on the console. At the same time the case was repainted in an ivory tint with gold accents.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 47-84]
The Historical Organ - Inadequate or Superior?
The article gives no quick and easy answer; rather, various aspects are examined. For many organists, the repertoire (which they know from their student days) is their primary concern. Unfortunately, this tendency has often led to the alteration of historical organs. However, a limited knowledge of organ literature should not be allowed to lead to a situation where the special features of historical organs are not respected.
The author takes a stand in support of respecting the historical organ and its peculiar character. He contrasts the functions of the organ in both concerts and worship services in centuries past and in the present day. The historical organ should - through preservation of its musical and technical design - be seen as a unique and extraordinary "teacher". The article touches on questions of registration and articulation, and thereby also of the connection with the organ wind. Technical problems are discussed with the aid of several examples from the organ literature.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 181-184]
Friedrich Hermann Lütkemüller, Wittstock
Lütkemüller is one of the most interesting personalities in the field of organ building in Northern Germany. He was born in 1815 in Papenbruch and after his education he lived with Friedrich Turley, Carl August Buchholz, Gottfried Heise and Eberhard Friedrich Walcker in Wittstock, a small town between Berlin and Rostock, until his death in 1897. Lütkemüller built exclusively organs with slider chests and specialized in small organs with three to eight stops. Many of his works are still extant, among them also two and three-manual instruments. His largest organs still in existence are in Seehausen (Altmark) and in the Dom in Güstrow.
An unusual aspect of Lütkemüller's work was the construction of a double action, by means of which one could, with variable key pressure, activate two different wind chests from a single manual. After he delivered an organ of this type in 1863 to Marwitz, a town near Berlin, he applied for a patent (No. 11708) which was granted to him in 1880. The actual "patent organ" was displayed in Sydow in 1882. The organ in Marwitz is preserved fully intact, excluding the façade pipes. The instrument in Sydow, in contrast, was dismantled; only the wind chest of the Hauptwerk was used again in a new organ.
Lütkemüller does not belong to those masters of his craft who achieved fame far beyond the borders of their native land. However, his organs have distinguished themselves by their excellent quality and a noteworthy commitment to classical principles of organ building. He produced over 180 organs, perhaps even as many as 200, for Prignitz, Altmark, Havelland and Mecklenburg. Although in the meantime the number of existing instruments has been reduced considerably, nevertheless numerous organs from the Wittstock workshop have been able to be cleaned, made playable or even fully restored.
The present article gives an overview of Lütkemüller's work and the design of his instruments. The oeuvre meanwhile has been so thoroughly researched that the list of his new organs can be seen as largely complete.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 289-318]
The Geneaolgy of the Passau Organ Building Family Butz
In the organ related literature throughout the course of the 20th century, the number of Passau organ builders with the name Butz (Putz) grew larger and larger. From three (1931), it grew ultimately to seven or even nine (1977).
The reason for this lies
1) in the absence of important church records (church registers),
2) in wrong entries made in the registers,
3) in the authors' uncritical evaluation of the archival materials available to them.
Difficult and lengthy research efforts finally made it possible to clarify the situation (even a Spengler [tinsmith] and a Handschuhmacher [glove maker] with the same name (Putz)were assumed to be organ builders). Still remaining are only three organ builders with the name Butz: Andreas (d. 1657), his son Jakob (d. 1693) and the latter's son Martin (1666-1704).
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 185-216]
Experiences and Lessons from the Reconstruction of the Silbermann Organ in the Hofkirche in Dresden
From 1966 to 1989, the highly ornamental decoration on the façade of the organ in the Hofkirche [Royal Catholic Church] in Dresden, which was destroyed in 1945, was almost totally reconstructed by Walter Thürmer and Rosi Schwabe. Their principal help in this effort came from two pre-war photographs. An important precondition for this work was for them to familiarize themselves with the styles and techniques of the 18th century. Unfortunately, errors made during the photogrammetric evaluation of the photos led to mistakes in the reconstructed case, so that at times great difficulties arose while attempting to install the carved figures and ornaments.
Based on the experience gained from this work, the following suggestions can be made for future work of this sort:
1. Before the work begins, sufficient time must be set aside for planning.
2. All those involved (experts, architects, organ builders, sculptors, painters) must work together from the start.
3. All source materials (photos, sketches, etc.) must be available to all participants at all times.
4. The decisive factor in the choice of team members must be their qualifications in their area of expertise, and not financial considerations.
5. In order to produce a unified result, the work should be guided by a single artistic director.
6. The work should not be interrupted in midcourse, so that its quality remains consistent and possibly even improves.
7. Ample time must be calculated for the completion of the work. Defective results due to time pressures damage both the reputation of the participants and the interests of those who have commissioned the work.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 165-174]
Wartime and Post-War Losses of Organs in Leipzig
During the Second World War, 25 churches in Leipzig, as well as the famous "Gewandhaus" and the conservatory, were destroyed entirely or suffered substantial damage. In all of these structures, the organs were also lost.
The tomb of Joh. Sebastian Bach was located in the Johanniskirche. The organ there was built in 1897 by Ernst Röver and modified by Alfred Schmeisser in 1931. Of the 66 stops planned at the time, only 54 were able to be completed before the war.
The Matthaeikirche housed an organ built by Gebr. Jehmlich (1898, 43 stops) which was modified in 1938 by Hermann Eule.
In the Erlöserkirche in Leipzig-Thonberg stood an organ made by Friedrich Ladegast (1873, 23 stops). This instrument was modified by Gebr. Jehmlich in 1939 and enlarged to three manuals and 43 stops.
The Andreaskirche possessed a Wilhelm Sauer organ (1893, 31 stops) which the firm of Hermann Eule had enlarged in 1940 to three manuals and 34 stops.
These four churches named above were not rebuilt after the war.
On 30 May, 1968, the University Church, St. Pauli, the most beautiful late Gothic church in Leipzig, was imploded on orders from the aesthetically narrow-minded Walter Ulbricht. Along with the church, the organ was destroyed, which was originally built by Joh. Gottlob Mende (1843, 31 stops), enlarged in 1915 by Jahn & Sons to four manuals and 92 stops, finally remodeled by the firm of Hermann Eule in 1948.
A Walcker organ (1884), which had been enlarged in 1909 by W. Sauer to 62 stops, was destroyed with the Gewandhaus.
The former conservatory lost not only its 74 stop concert organ built by W. Sauer (1927), but also a large number of practice organs.
Finally, the organs in the Great Hall of the university (Hermann Eule, 1938) and the Karl Straube organ in the university's musicology department (P. Furtwängler & Hammer, 1929) were victims of senseless destruction.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 85-142]
The Organ Builder Michael Engler the Younger, Breslau.
His Organs, Especially the Instrument of the Abbey Church at Grüssau
Starting in 1720, Michael Engler (1666-1760) built approximately 40 organs; of these four had three manuals: Brieg, St. Nikolaus (1724-30; 52 stops); Grüssau, Zisterzienserkirche (1732-36; 50 stops); Olmütz, St Mauritius (1745; 41 stops); Breslau, St. Elisabeth (1750-61; 54 stops). The family's organ building tradition was continued by a son, Gottlieb Benjamin (1734-1793) and by a grandson, Johann Gottlieb Benjamin (1775-1829). The article presents stop lists, a detailed description of the organ at Grüssau,registration instructions forthe Grüssau organ and a characterization of Engler's organ building style.
[Acta Organologica 26, 1998, 217-242]