Christian Binz

The organ files of the Wiebelsheim Amt

The Landeshauptarchiv in Koblenz contains in its archival materials a collection of files with information about the construction of the first organs in the five Catholic parish churches in the former Wiebelsheim Amt (a small adminstrative district comprising a few localities).

Caspar Zumsande (Höhr-Grenzhausen) built an organ (II+P/18) in 1862/63 for Damscheid, which was replaced in 1957 by a harmonium and in 1982 by an organ from Hugo Mayer (Heusweiler).

In Oberwesel-Dellhofen an organ was built in 1876 (II+P/13) by Johann Schlaad (Waldlaubersheim).

Several companies were in competition to build a new organ in Oberwesel-Langscheid, including Johann Schlaad, J. Bach (Kamp-Bornhofen), Ludwig Hünd (Linz am Rhein) und Franz Wilhelm Sonreck (Cologne). Hünd was awarded the contract (I+P/8). The organ was completed in 1862. It had to give way to a new instrument in 1958 built by Walter Seifert (Cologne).

The plan of the Oberwesel organist Flory for the first organ (II+P/16) in Perscheid was realized with a few changes in 1848-49 by Johann Schlaad. The instrument remains in place with some alterations. In 1999 the first phase of renovation was performed by the organ manufacturer Vleugels (Hardheim).

In 1870-72 Peter Kessler (Kisselbach) built a new organ (II+P/18) in Wiebelsheim, which was restored in 1979 by the firm Oberlinger (Windesheim).

It remained until the construction of a new church in 1961.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 243-254]


Felix Friedrich

Adam Gottlob Casparini and Tobias Heinrich Gottfried Trost. Apprentice and Master

During his study and apprenticeship in 1736 and 1737 Adam Gottlob Casparini worked in Altenburg with Tobias Heinrich Gottfried Trost. He rebuilt then as contractor for Trost the organ in Luckla, and worked for Trost building the Altenburg Organ (in the Castle Church).

The Article analyses the extant documentarium concering this short episode in Casparini’s life, and describes the tense relations of these two organ builders, whose differences concerned not only technical detail but lively business rivalry. Further examined are very critical comments of Casparini about Trost’s conception and construction of the Altenburger instrument. The rebuild in Luckla is thoroughly described on the basis of the existing specification.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 67-72]


Rimantas Gučas

The organ building tradition in Königsberg - Vilnius

The earliest mention of an organ in the Baltic region dates from the year 1333 when during the planning for the cathedral in Königsberg [now: Kaliningrad] provisions were made for an organ in the chancel. In 1408 the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order had a clavichord and portativ sent to the wife of Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania. At the beginning of the sixteenth century Lithuania already had 113 churches and in the Lithuanian Statute (1529) organ builders received mention along with goldsmiths. In spite of this there exists little or no contemporary information regarding organs or organ builders.

In 1534 Urban Neidenberg completed a positive with pedal for Prince Georgio Radvil. Thereafter the Prussian Duke Albrecht sent word to the Prince that he requested the services of Neidenberg to make repairs to the organ in the palace at Königsberg.

The first significant organ in Lithuania was built in 1595-96 by Johann Koppelmann from Gdansk for the cathedral of the capital city Vilnius. In 1614 an unknown master supplied an organ for the St. Bernard Church in Vilnius (II/29, with moveable figures on the case). The beginning of the seventeenth century also saw the installation of an organ from Königsberg in the Franciscan church of Kretinga (II/36), which was not destroyed until the Second World War. From the end of the sixteenth century members of the organ building family Wendt were active in the Baltic region for almost one hundred years. In the eighteenth century contacts increased between the organ building traditions of Lithuania, Prussia and Courland. The positive in the Franciscan church at Kretinga - the oldest extant organ in Lithuania - was probably built in the seventeenth century by a Prussian master and was modified in 1744. In the Catholic village church of Adakavas one can find a positivee from Königsberg that dates from the end of the eighteenth century. Johann Preuss supplied an organ for Kretinga/Crottingen in 1785. Georg Adam Neppert built the organ in Griškabūdis (1804). Gerhardt Arend Zelle from Königsberg settled in Vilnius and developed into a productive and influential organ builder. As an apprentice of Georg Siegmund Caspari he joined the Königsberg tradition with that of Vilnius. His own apprentice Nicolaus Jantzen would become one of the most well known Lithuanian organ builders of the second half of the eighteenth century. Typical for this period in Lithuania were two-manual organs without pedal.

The great majority of Lithuanian organs up until the middle of the nineteenth century were made anonymously. Although they have their origins in many different builders, it is possible to see quite a few organ fronts that share a resemblance to each other. One can therefore speak of a "Vilnius School" which had close ties with the Königsberg tradition up until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Characteristic are the many 4' stops in the dispositions as well as"Jula", Unda Maris, Pauken and Cymbelstern.

Adam Gottlob Casparini built at least three organs in the grand duchy of Lithuania, amongst them one at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius, of which a substantial amount is preserved in original condition. This instrument bore witness to the highly developed Königsberg style of organ building, which also strongly influenced the organ building of neighboring lands.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 35-66]


Max Reinhard Jaehn

1804 - 1953 - 2005:200 Years of Organ Research and 50 Years of Organ Building in Mecklenburg

In 1804 the Schwerin organist and music collector Johann Jacob Heinrich Westphal finished a collection of organ dispositions and other organ related information. This can be considered the beginning of organ research in Mecklenburg.

In the ensuing two hundred years there appeared additional important researchers: Julius Massmann, Karl Schmaltz, Walter Haacke, Karl Eschenburg, Georg Gothe and many others. The start of organ restoration in Mecklenburg in the strict modern sense can be traced to the year 1953 as the organ in Dreilützow was restored according the the principles of historical preservation.

Not until the 1980’s did research and restoration experience a revival which brought with it new impulses for the neglected stock of organs in the anti-church GDR. After the German reunification conditions were ripe for a new flowering of organ maintenance and restoration, most recently with a series of projects in the years 2000 until 2005 via the support of various foundations. These successes arose not only from the flow of funds but also from the achievements of the researchers and the sensible usage of the results of their work.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 355-384]


Jan Janca / Hermann Fischer

Adam Gottlob Casparini (1715 - 1788)

Adam Gottlob Casparini was born in Breslau on April 15, 1715, the son of Adam Orazio Casparini. He completed his apprenticeship while working for his father. From 1735 until 1737 he worked for Tobias Heinrich Gottfried Trost in Altenburg (Thüringen) and afterwards returned home to be an assistant to his father. After the death of his cousin Georg Siegmund Caspari in Königsberg (1741) he applied for his cousin’s position of court organ builder and he received the appointment in 1742. He died on May 17, 1788 in Königsberg.

The complete œuvre of Adam Gottlob Casparini can be estimated at around 45 new organs built (not including modifications and repairs), of which 43 have been definitevely verified and of these six are located in Königsberg. The organ at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius (Lithuania) is still completely preseved. In Mühlhausen, Leunenburg und Barten in modern day Poland, some parts of the organs remain. Several instruments were destroyed by fire, many others were victims of changing tastes and advances in technology (of which we thankfully have at least the photographs of a few historical organ prospects). The remainder of the organs were for the most part destroyed during the Second World War.

In contrast to his father Orazio, Adam Gottlob Casparini was a good businessman who made life difficult for his competitors. His contracts were vaguely formulated to allow him to make later demands for "additional work" to be done. Technically he was a good organ builder who worked efficiently, laid a high value on using the best materials available and charged accordingly.

The dispositions of the one and two-manual instruments can be analyzed and compared with selected examples: the number of stops, Principal and Flötenchor (the "Unda maris" is a typical leitmotiv), pedal stops und reeds. Characteristic are also the various titles of the flute stops as well as the „Jula" stop (which still has not been completely clarified). Tremulant and one or two Zimbelstern stops also belong to the usual stop list, frequently also stop actions and stop knobs made from iron. There still exist photos of eleven of the organ prospects by Adam Gottlob Casparinis. From these images one can deduce five different types, as far as it is possible given the limited number of examples that have been handed down.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 73-88]


Wolfgang Lindner

An historic Robson organ in St. Petersburg (Russia)

This salon organ from the 19th century stood for about 150 years in a private residence in Warren (Herkimer Country, New York, USA) until it was moved at the end of the 1990s to St. Petersburg (Russia).

Dismanteling the orgen in St. Petersburg showed that it is a barrel and finger salon instrument built towards end of the 1840s by Joseph Robson & Son, London. The firm name is inseribed on the barrel itself; the playing function must yet be restored. The article gives further a short overview of the history and activity of the Robson family, presenting specifications of some of their instruments.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 313-330]


Uwe Pape

The Organs of the Dukedom of Braunschweig (Brunswick) before 1810

The dukedom of Braunschweig-Lüneberg, which existed from 1432 to 1754, was divided through inheritance into smaller, separate states. Among these the principality of Braunschweig Wolfenbüttel emerged at an early stage, roughly corresponding in the 15/16th centuries to the later dukedom of Braunschweig. It came to an end by reason of the Napoleonic occupation on 28 October 1806, and was added on 9 July 1807 to the kingdom of Westfalia, to which it belonged until 1813.

At the close of the Congress of Vienna, the dukedom of Braunschweig was established within the old boundaries of the principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. It consisted of several parts, not joined together: 1. The region between Aller and Harz, with Braunschweig; 2. The region between Harz and Weser, with Holzminden; 3. Blankenburg am Harz and its surroundings; 4. The district of Calvörde (enclosed by the province of Saxony); 5. The district of Thedinghausen, between Bremen and Verden; 6. The district of Bodenburg with the village of Oestrum (district of Gandersheim); 7. The village of Ostharingen, north of Goslar (district of Lutter am Barenberge); 8. The village of Oelsburg, south of Peine and belonging to the district of Vechelde.

In 1918 the free state of Braunschweig was set up; like the dukedom, it was a member state of the German Reich. In 1942 the district of Holzminden was exchanged with the district of Goslar, along with the towns of Goslar and Salzgitter in the Prussian province of Hannover and other isolated villages. In this way, a strongly-integrated regional structure was created.

The Reformation, which reached the city of Braunschweig in 1528 and the territory of Braunschweig in 1568, has influenced the historical development of the dukedom until the present day. So the area of the "Evangelical-Lutheran regional church in Braunschweig", based in Wolfenbüttel, has been broadly identical with the district of Braunschweig since 1942.

Over the centuries an organ culture developed in Braunschweig, linked in the Renaissance with names such as Compenius, Gottfried Fritzsche and Jonas Weigel, and in the Baroque era with masters such as Friedrich Besser, Otto Eilhard Bothienter, Johann Andreas Graff, Abraham Sidekum, and Johann Ferdinand Hüsemann with his two sons.

This article sets out the history of all organs surviving from the period before 1810, in the district of Braunschweig as it existed before that date.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 89-242]


Friedrich Wilhelm Riedel

On the history of the Physharmonica

The Benedictine abbey in Göttweig (Niederösterreich) possesses a physharmonica from around 1840 by the important Viennese organbuilder Jacob Deutschmann (1795-1853). It consists in a single rank of free reeds winded by two foot-bellows with flexible expression. Through the use of octave couplers and opening of the resonance space additional dynamic levels are possible. A contemporary description of construction, treatment and performance technique comes from the Viennese pianist Johann Promberger (1819 - after 1849). The Göttweiger physharmonica was chiefly used as substitute for winds in performing church music, operas and oratorios with reduced ensembles. Thanks to its impressive volume, the instrument could be used alone for church services.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 385-408]


Achim Seip

Synagogue Organs from the Steinmeyer Workshop (Oettingen)

Along with nearly all influential German organ builders in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the workshop of Steinmeyer (Oettingen) also built organs for Liberal synagogue congregations that were situated in large cities.

In Berlin there were two synagogue organs by Steinmeyer. The work for the instrument of the synagogue on Johannisstraße from 1913 (II+27) actually had to do with the reconstruction of the organ that had been built by Carl August und Carl Friedrich Buchholz (Berlin) in 1854.

The organ from 1930 in the synagogue in Prinzregentenstraße in the district of Wilmersdorf was with its 65 stops, divided among three manuals and pedal, one of the largest synagogue organs in Berlin.

The organ of the synagogue in Munich, in the Herzog-Max-Straße, was completed in 1929 (III/33). The composition of the stop list followed very closely the suggestions of the organist and composer Heinrich Schalit who was director of music for the congregation at that time.

In the Liberal synagogue in Nuremberg at Hans-Sachs-Platz stood an organ (II/29) originally built in 1874 by Georg Friedrich Steinmeyer which had a striking Moorish-style prospect. The instrument was rebuilt in 1911 by the firm Strebel and transferred in 1938 by the firm Bittner into the Catholic church of St. Charles Borromeo in Nuremberg-Mögeldorf. This instrument was replaced in 1964 with a new organ built by Steinmeyer.

The organ for Odessa (Ukraine) from 1902 (II/16 + 1 transmission) was built in the synagogue of the „Self-Help Society of the Jewish Action Committee".

The two Berlin organs were destroyed in the pogrom night of November 9/10 1938. The aforementioned synagogues in Munich und Nuremberg were already torn down in 1938 before the pogrom night. While the Nuremberg organ survived in an altered form until 1964, the organ transferred from the synagogue in Herzog-Max-Straße to the St. Corbinian church in Munich-Sendling was destroyed during an air raid on July 12, 1944. The organ in Odessa was either already destroyed during the progroms of 1905 or between 1918 and 1920 in the midst of the civil war. Under Communist rule after 1920 nearly all the synagogues in Odessa were closed and desecrated after the plunder of their contents.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 255-288]


Alex Shinn

Twist of Fate. The Plight of Cambridge and Oxford collegiate organs from Reformation to Restoration (1536-1660)

In the early 16th Century as sacred polyphonic music (and the use of organs) was reaching a pinnacle in cathedrals and collegiate churches throughout England, particularly in the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, many would have balked at the thought of its demise. Yet after Martin Luther’s doctrines reached Oxford via Cambridge and the need for transformation in the Church became apparent, a series of political and religious eruptions occurred which came to have grave consequences for both complex church music and organs. These included most notably, Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy (1534) the Dissolution Acts (1536, 1539), the propagation of the Great Bible of 1539 and the liturgical alterations of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. Along with the resulting severance from Rome, the abolition of all English monasteries and chantries (those at Cambridge and Oxford among them), the exclusion of the Latin rites as well as the propagation of the English Prayer Book, an anti-organ sentiment grew steadily. Over thirteen colleges in Cambridge and Oxford possessed organs by 1535, and these instruments were to suffer greatly under injunctions imposed upon the universities by Henry’s young son Edward VI and his ministers, particularly the Injunctions of 1549. Organs were damaged at Magdalen College, Oxford (1549), concealed (apparently ) at All Souls (1549) and New College, Oxford (1548), sold at Exeter College, Oxford (1553) or, in the very least, silenced, as at King’s, Christ’s, St. John’s, Jesus, Queen’s and Trinity Colleges, Cambridge. Edward VI had sent Catholics scurrying into dark corners and priest holes, but as Mary I ascended the throne in 1553 they emerged from the shadows and with them collegiate choirs and organs anew. This revival became short-lived, however, and in the roller-coaster ride of use and disuse, organs fell under attack once again during the Elizabethan Settlement. Stricter Puritan agendas came to remove collegiate organs from the Oxford colleges of Trinity (after 1566), All Souls (1561), Merton (1567), New College, (1571), as well as from King’s College, Cambridge (1570). The organ’s removal from Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 1575 may well have been an attempt to procure funds, rather than a move to appease overly zealous Puritans.

Toward the end of the 16th Century, a growing musical tolerance that defended the use of choirs and organs emerged, particularly in Oxford. While Calvinists in Parliament pushed to ban music from the liturgy, documents published in Oxford such as The Praise of Musicke (1586), Apologia Musices (1588) and Laws of Ecclesiastical Politie (1596) emphasized the indispensability of music in the liturgy. More importantly, in the 1590s the doctrines of Dutch theologian, Jacobus Arminius (which later became cornerstones of the High Church Movement), not only challenged Calvinists on the topic of Predestination, but supported a liturgy rich in pro-Roman musical ceremony. As college leaders like William Laud (President St. John’s College, Oxford 1611-21) came to embrace Arminianism a green light was given to organs; during the years after 1600 English organ building, especially in the universities, reached a peak in a glittering string of organs built by Thomas Dallam and his son, Robert. The charges and accounts for the building of Thomas Dallam’s magnificent organ in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge in 1605 provide us with the first detailed description of the construction of an English organ. After 1605 - above all after Laud’s appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633 - the triumph of the Arminians manifested itself in the installation of organs in seven Cambridge colleges and over five Oxford colleges, including the installation of a Thomas Dallam organ at Corpus Christi, 1617/18, reported here for the first time.

In the 1630s as the High Church Movement reached its zenith the ceremonial excesses of college leaders like John Cosin (Master, Peterhouse, Cambridge 1634-44), particularly in regard to the use of liturgical music and organs, became a specific issue that brought Puritan blood to a boil. Consequently, when Oliver Cromwell and iconoclasts such as William Dowsing descended upon the universities during the Civil War, not an organ in a college chapel was left standing. Though Puritans like Cromwell tolerated and even enjoyed organs in a secular setting, as at Hampton Court Palace, the use of organs in divine worship, as a rule, became abhorred. As a result, English organ building came to a standstill during the Interregnum, not to revive again until the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. Tragically, instruments built in England at the outset of the 17 Century remain extant today only in accounts and charges such as those presented in this article. The only major parts of a pre-1660 collegiate organ that have come down to us are the main case of Robert Dallam’s ‘Milton’ organ, built for Magdalen College, Oxford in 1631 (today found in Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire) and its chaire case (today in St. Nicholas, Stanford-on-Avon, Northhamptonshire) - a sad commentary on one of the most turbulent periods in the history of English church music.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 11-34]

Franz-Josef Vogt

Demolished and forgotten. Cologne‘s unknown organs.

War brings with it profound loss, loss which can be measured not only in the devastating sacrifice of human life, but in the eradication of irreplaceable cultural riches. Not surprisingly, organs have throughout the centuries, been counted among cultural treasures to have borne the brunt of war; those lost during the Second World War in the city of Cologne provide us with poignant examples. The scope of Cologne‘s losses becomes apparent after examining the "Meldebögen für Orgeln" [Organ Records] for the year 1944, in which only curt remarks – "destroyed", "burned" or "seriously damaged" - hint at the extent of the organs‘ plight. Equally perturbing is the fact that many instruments which had no cause to be gutted and should have remained standing after the war were demolished under an organ movement guided by a prevailing ideological narrow-mindedness.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 289-312]

Ulrich Zimmerle

Organ history of St. Maria parish, Stuttgart

The neo-gothic parish church St. Maria, built 1871-1879 is the first new catholic church in Stuttgart since the Reformation. At dedication, the church was provided with a 2 Manual 25 Stop E. F. Walcker & Cie. (Ludwigsburg) with mechanical cone chests. Fifty years later the instrument was expanded to 3 Manuals and almost twice the size by the Späth Brs. (Ennetach-Mengen). Register- and keyaction were electrified, cone chests remained throughout. At this point, under "Orgelbewegung" influence, the originally fundamental sounding Walcker registers were brightened up with Mixtures, Aliquots and Reeds. In July 1944 the organ was totally destroyed by an allied bomb.

After rebuilding of the severely damaged church followed a new IV/60 Organ by Albert Reiser (Biberach), with neobaroque character (slider chests but electric key- and register-action). Financial problems dictated starting with only 2 Manuals and Pedal, followed 10 years later by the third Manual. This instrument was not further finished. First in 2002 came a complete technical refurbishing by Reiser with a new tonal concept and enlargement to the originally planned size.

The earlier rather shrill and unbalanced tonal plan was changed to a rounder romantic-symphonic design. In place of the unrealized Rückpositiv came a new Unterwerk as second Swell, the former Brustwerk was changed to a Solo with strong French reeds. Numerous new manual stops, especially characteristic reeds and strings, were added, the existing stops partly reordered and revoiced. The new console is equipped with all up to date playing aids.

[Acta Organologica 30, 2008, 331-354]