Gerhard Aumüller

History of the Bad Wildungen Organ in the 16th and 17th centuries

The organ history of the reknowned spa, health and recreation resort of Bad Wildungen in Hessia, is illustrated particularly during the 30 Years War (1618-1648) to demonstrate the cultural and social historical context of sacred music and organ making in a period of confessional struggles. Confronting the town of Fritzlar, situated in the Roman Catholic diocese of Mayence and the neighbouring Lutheran town of Wildungen, part of the county of Waldeck, the cultural transfer and its influence on intellectual life (which found its expression in a number of Latin poems related to the organs) is highlighted, resulting from the interaction of the organists of both towns, who were responsible for the building of the Wildungen organ. The following specific new insights were obtained, referring to the lives and work of the two most relevant organ builders, engaged for the Wildungen instrument in the 17th century, namely Jacob Hein and Georg Heinrich Wagner:
1. Jacob Hein of Fritzlar, descendant of a local family, was born around 1580, had his home, family and workshop in Fritzlar and was an employee of the canonic church of St. Peter’s, where he worked as a headmaster and organ player. His civil duties forced him to stay continuously in town, which was the reason for his rather restricted output of new instruments elsewhere. Perhaps, the front of the so called Fraumünster-organ in Fritzlar, originating from the Franciscan church and transferred into the little Fraumünster-chapel in 1827 may be ascribed to J. Hein because of its late-renaissance appearance. Hein, nevertheless, was a well-known master during his time, who in addition to his work on the Wildungen church organ also worked in Westphalia and, i. a., built a small organ for the local count Christian of Waldeck, residing in Wildungen. As deduced from his correspondence, Hein was a clever-acting businessman.
2. A much broader scale of importance was attained by Georg Heinrich Wagner (around 1610-1688) from Lich, who, coming from a family of organ builders and organ players, must be regarded as the leading organ builder in Hessen during the 17th century with a far reaching radius of action. Uniting influences both from organ building in the Netherlands, the mid-Rhine area and in Franconia, he developed a specific early baroque type of the Hessian organ, small-scale instruments with sparse decoration, but of excellent craftsmanship which he also transferred into the northern parts of the territory, such as Wildungen.
3. As deduced from some remarks in the latin organ poems and the pertinent correspondence, in Wildungen between 1620 and 1630 organ accompaniment of the singing congregation was already common practice.
4. The Wagner-organ from 1647, one of the larger instruments built by Georg Heinrich Wagner, was used until 1853, when it was removed not for reasons of malfunction but for the changed musical style and taste.
5. The close contacts between the catholic organ player Jacob Hein in Fritzlar and his protestant counterpart Balthasar Schellenberger in Wildungen indicate an intensive interconfessional cultural exchange even in a time of severe confessional conflicts.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 111-148]


Martin Balz

The Dauphin Organ in Hergershausen and its specific instructions for registration

In 1721 organ builder, Johann Christian Dauphin of Kleinheubach, constructed an organ for the Evangelist Church in Babenhausen-Hergershausen west of Aschaffenburg, the front of which still exists today. In 1784 Conrad Zahn of Gross-Ostheim provided the organ with a Subbass Pedal, and in 1820 Gottlieb Dietz of Zwingenberg further extended the pedal with a Violinbass. The organ was radically altered in 1840 after extensive repair work by Bernhard Dreymann of Mainz, and in 1912 the organ was replaced by a new instrument of the Firm Steinmeyer in Oettingen.
Detailed instructions for registration for the 1721 Dauphin organ, found in a choral book of the time, provide us with valuable insights into 18th century registration practice for period, one-manual parish organs. The instructions are reproduced here with commentary.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 149-162]


Bernhard Billeter

Ernst Schiess as Organ Expert

Ernst Schiess (1894–1981) was active from 1923 until 1976 as one of the most important experts for organs, bells and room acoustics.  He had a virtual monopoly position in the Protestant, German-speaking part of Switzerland which lasted until after the end of the Second World War.  His role was similar to that played on the Catholic side by P. Stefan Koller OSB (1893–1984) in Einsiedeln, with whom Schiess was friends. Schiess completed an apprenticeship as a precision engineer and played violoncello and viola da gamba at the professional level. However, his organ related knowledge was self-taught via intensive studies and the construction of a private organ research laboratory. He precisely catalogued countless organs, doing the same on many extended trips to Germany and several Scandinavian countries. Even before the beginning of the organ movement in Germany, way ahead of his time, he received contracts as an expert consultant, e.g. in the important organ restorations in the Cathedral of St. Clemens in Aarhus, St. Petri in Malmö, in the cathedrals of Kopenhagen, Lund und Roskilde as well as in the abbey church of Weingarten. The high demand for his expertise enabled him to make his living as a freelance consultant. His legacy, which comprised well over one thousand well-documented consultations, can be found in the Landesbibliothek in Bern. His body of work, so closely bound to the development of the organ movement, was not without its contradictions, as with his mentor Albert Schweitzer.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 399-424]


Christian Binz

A History of Organ Building Since the 19th Century in the Lutheran Churches of the Former Niedergrafschaft Katzenelnbogen Situated on the Left Bank of the Rhine

The part of the county known as Niedergrafschaft Katzenelnbogen that is located on the left bank of the Rhine stretches southwest from St. Goar into the region of Hunsrück (Pfalzfeld). The Reformation was instituted in 1527–1528. In 1815 the area was absorbed into the Prussian province of the Rhine.
The collegiate church at St. Goar already possessed an organ that predated the Reformation. It was replaced in 1820 with a new instrument (II+P/23) made by the firm of the Brothers. Stumm.
The other localities were initially supplied with used organs: Werlau (ca. 1803 the organ came from Rhens), Pfalzfeld (1820 the organ came from St. Goar) and Biebernheim (1834). Holzfeld had no organ prior to the construction of a new one. In Badenhard there was already an organ in place by 1830.
The Brothers Weil (Neuwied) were able to build new organs in three churches: Holzfeld (1856, I+aP/3), Biebernheim (1858, I+P/6), and Pfalzfeld (1869/70, I+aP/9). In Werlau (1861, I+P/11) the Brothers Stumm (Rhaunen-Sulzbach) were chosen over the firm Weil. In Badenhard a new organ (I+P/7) was not built until 1910 by Jakob Oberlinger (Windesheim).
The organs in Biebernheim, Pfalzfeld, St. Goar and Werlau are still in existence but have undergone alterations. The instruments in Badenhard and Holzfeld were replaced. In Badenhard and Werlau the baroque facades from previous organs have been maintained. 

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 87-110]


Martin Blindow

Friedrich Meyer’s Organ Workshop at Herford

Friedrich Meyer (1829–1897) came to be acknowledged as one of the most prolific Westphalian organ builders in the latter half of the 19th Century. Meyer’s numerous instruments were produced at his Herford workshop, where he worked together with his brother, Wilhelm (1837–1870) and son, Arnold Eduard Friedrich (1863–1887), and were consequently delivered to churches and chapels throughout Westphalia, the Rheinland and Schaumburg-Lippe. Friedrich Meyer was educated and trained by J. H. Hoffmann (Bielefeld), Peter Josef Korfmacher (Linnich), Merklin-Schütze et Cie. (Brüssel) and Christian Weil (Neuwied). Early on in his career Meyer exhibited a preference for Walcker-type mechanical cone chests, but later switched to mechanical slider chests. Although records exist for over 110 commissions, many contracts – including Herford, Münster (III/51) – and countless stoplists, precious little remains of his work today other than the handful instruments found in: Utrecht, St. Joseph (originally constructed for St. Johannis in Wuppertal-Barmen); Essen-Hamm, Catholic Church „Zur schmerzhaften Mutter Maria“ (previously in Dortmund-Brackel, Evangelical Church); Herford, Prison (since 2002 in storage, Steinmann, Vlotho); Paderborn, Catholic Church, St. Georg (previously in Paderborn, Busdorfkirche); Puderbach, Evangelical Church; and in Dortmund-Bodelschwingh, Evangelical Church (some stops).

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 277-328]


Hubert Fasen / Walter Friehs / Franz-Josef Vogt

The Kleine-Organ in the evangelical church in Eckenhagen: on the history of the Organ and Restoration

About 70 km east of Köln lies Eckenhagen in whose baroque village church stands one of the largest and most significant historic organs of the 18th century in all Rhineland, built by Johann Christian Kleine (1737–1805) from Freckenhausen. It was dedicated 24 July 1795.
In the 19th century the organ was serviced and somewhat changed by Kleine's nephew and successor Christian Roetzel (1776–1867) and his son Daniel (1830–1917). After the 2nd world war the deteriorated instrument was slated for repair and the work was done in 1954–55 by the Organbuilder Willi Peter of Köln, according to then prevailing ideas and brought already then substantial changes. More radical still were alterations which followed between 1970 and 1972 and were incompatible with current conceptions of protection of historic instruments. Building in of parallel opening ventils and substitation of abstracts by wire pulls made the Monument into a counterfeit.
So new restoration was needed, performed by Organbuilder Hubert Fasen of Oberbettingen, and concluded in 2008. Enormous assistance came from the original plans of Johann Christian Kleine, preserved in the Hauptstaatsarchiv in Münster. So could the reconstruction guide itself with concrete original facts instead of vague presumptions.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009,163-184]


Hermann Fischer

Johann Christian Köhler, Organ Builder in Frankfurt am Main

Born on 31 July 1714 in Groß-Rosenburg an der Saale as the son of a carpenter, Köhler learned the craft of organ building from an unknown master.  He worked as a journeyman for Johann Conrad Wegmann (1699–1738) in Darmstadt.  In 1739 he married the widow of Wegmann and came thereby into possession of the workshop, which he transferred to Frankfurt in 1740. With time he built up a substantial territory for his work which stretched from Marburg south to Worms and from Mainz eastwards to Bamberg.  At present there are 36 instruments built by Köhler that are known to exist.  Upon his death in 1761 his stepson Philipp Ernst Wegmann (1734–1778) became his successor.
The sound of the Köhler organs is quite close to the style of the organ builder Stumm. Köhler preferred solo reed stops to strings, which for example are typical for Seuffert organs. His organ prospects have a characteristic personal note. Internationally known are the two choir organs from Ebrach.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 399-424]


Franz Körndle

The Organbuilder Marx Günzer

Marx Günzer (1579–1627/28) was among the most important south german organbuilders in the first quarter of the 17th century. After apprenticing by Konrad Schott in Stuttgart and building instruments in Backnang and Marbach, he moved to Augsburg in 1603.
He constructed organs in Augsburg (St. Ulrich & Afra; Heilig-Kreuz, protestant; Barfüßerkirche and Dominikanerkirche) and in the surrounding countryside (Wettenhausen, Neuburg, Reichenau) but was estimed also in more distant cities (Ellwangen, Würzburg). In the present article the documented facts about Günzer are collected and thoroughly discussed. The Appendix provides several original documents and specifications.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 185-216]


Alfred Reichling

Organs, Organ Builders and Organ Building in the First World War

The First World War, which for millions of people brought with it death and grave injuries with lasting aftereffects and the losses of material goods, for all of humanity also the loss of irreplaceble cultural assets, did not exclude the world of the organ. For the German-speaking areas, the periodicals »Zeitschrift für Instrumentenbau« and »Deutsche Instrumentenbau-Zeitschrift« provide much valuable information about the fates of organ builders and organs on the front and about the relationships amongst organ builders during the war and afterwards back home. At the beginning of the war many organ builders freely volunteered for military service based on feelings of patriotic enthusiasm. The raw reality of war and the inexpressibly gruesome slaughter of human life that came with use of modern technology on the battlefield soon led to feelings of disenchantment. The War Fury also sought out its victims amongst organs and organ builders, and in the face of the lack of raw materials for the armaments industry, church bells and organ parts had to be melted down for the metal they contained. Traces of humanity showed themselves in the attempts of individual soldiers located near the front lines to use primitive means to make organs damaged by artillery shells once again playable and useable for worship services. Already during wartime one witnessed the building of organs as war memorials or as memorials for fallen soldiers. The best known of these organs is the "Heldenorgel" (Heroes’ Organ) from Kufstein in Tyrol (Walcker, 1931), which to this day can be heard played daily at mid-day and because it is an open air organ it can be heard all the way across the Austrian border and into Bavaria. In 1931 this organ was dedicated to the memory of fallen heroes; in 1963 one spoke of fallen soldiers, in 1975 of the fallen and since 2009 it is a reminder of the victims of all wars and violence. Herein can be seen a step-wise movement away from the mythos of war and the development of an ever clearer opening of the eyes to behold the naked, horrible reality of war and violence.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 347-398]


Matthias Schneider

Organmusic and Organsistmusic in north Germany in the early 17th century:
on Johann Vierdancks "Toccata primi toni"

The fragment of a Toccata primi toni by Johann Vierdanck, delivered in the Düben collection consists in five four measure fragments, whose continuation stood on the opposite page, now lost. The fragments point to a type of Praeludium which is found also by Heinrich Scheidemann and Matthias Weckmann and described by Michael Praetorius. The organist preludes not only to prepare the listeners for the figural music to follow, but to give Violin and Lute players opportunity to tune their strings.
Thus there pieces bring Pedalpoints on G and D, A and E, as well as C and F. The writer's attempted reconstruction displays further a sequencechain between the third and fourth parts.
Presumably a Fugue followed the fragmentarily preserved Praeludium.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 399-424]


Dietrich Schuberth

Medii aevi organum
On organs from about 800 to about 1500

The history of the medieval organ got a certain lot of investigations. One of them, a description looking at the history of culture and of liturgy from roman times up to the carolingian era, is the author’s “Kaiserliche Liturgie” (1968). “Medii aevi organum” starts from here and makes use of certain items of knowledge which were gained from the early middle ages. Thus a perspective is developed that was not known before: Taking in view the categories of social history. The places, the opportunities and the reasons for building organs and for using them are the courts of princes, from Roman times. They were joined by the residences of bishops which become likewise important, followed by very prominent abbeys. Beginning with a time about 1200 there are also the magistrates of important cities who liked to represent themselves with a piece of representation like the organ. That is why the social-historical point of view makes evident for what reasons there are accounts of organ building and organ playing at a certain place and at a certain time. There are more than 200 accounts in that historical period that meet thus a plausible understanding. They do not only concern Aachen/Reims and Constantinople, but also Winchester, Peking and Bologna.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 425-444]


Achim Seip

Synagogue Organs from the Firm of Furtwängler & Hammer (Hannover)

At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, the firm of Furtwängler & Hammer was among the largest German organ builders. Owing to its well-known status it is not surprising that a few synagogue congregations in the north of Germany engaged the firm to build organs for them.
The synagogue located between the two Maschstraßen in Göttingen was the recipient (after a building expansion) of a new organ placed above the Torah shrine with two manuals, pedal and eleven registers built by Furtwängler & Hammer in 1896.
In 1898 an organ with four registers was installed in the synagogue on Lessingstraße in Wolfenbüttel.
The organ delivered in 1923 for the Friedenstempel (private synagogue) in Berlin-Wilmersdorf (Halensee) was built according to the Oskalyd system [Multiplex] with 15 foundation stops. The instrument was never problem-free in its functioning. A rebuilding in 1924 did nothing to improve the situation which led to deep resentments between the Jewish congregation and the firm Furtwängler & Hammer.
The disposition of the organ (III/40 + 1 Transmission) built in 1928 for the synagogue in Untere Königstraße in Kassel was influenced by the current organ reform movement. The instrument was inspected on the twentieth of September in the same year by Günther Ramin from Leipzig and received recommendation for approval.
The installation of a new organ (I/6) in 1931 for the Jacobson Temple in Seesen (Harz), was made possible via sponsors from the USA, who had also raised funds for the construction of the building.
All the above mentioned instruments were destroyed in the "Kristallnacht" (pogrom) of November 9/10, 1938.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 329-346]


Manfred Wittelsberger

Church Organs in Mainz - Taking an Inventory

With its four towers and two cupolas, the structure of the St. Martin’s Cathedral of Mainz soars impressively above the city skyline. It is the oldest Romanesque church on the Rhine and the symbol of the city. Mainz was founded as an encampment for a Roman legion, then became the capital of the Roman province Germania superior and finally was the first and most distinguished bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire. By the end of the 18th century, more than all others, electors and archbishops had left their mark on the developing city which then underwent many other changes in the 19th and 20th centuries that impacted on the inventory of organs. Many buildings and the organs that stood within them fell victim to acts of war, first in 1793 and again during the Second World War. As a result of the heaviest aerial bombing attack on Mainz which occured on 27 February 1945, 61 % of the building structures – in the inner city even up to 80 % – were destroyed. Today there are over 80 organs in the greater Mainz area, of these 70 were constructed after the Second World War.
The article initially presents a short history of the organ builders in Mainz since the 17th century. Then follows the principal section with the description of 83 organs in the 15 Mainz city divisions. The three sections of the city which lie on the right bank of the Rhine, Amöneburg, Kastel und Kostheim, were cut off from the rest of the city in 1945 by the American military adminstration. They are today under the jurisdiction of Wiesbaden but de facto are still considered part of Mainz. The appendix contains the dispositions of 21 instruments that were destroyed. At the end of the article are a chronological overview of all extant instruments and an alphabetic index of their builders.

[Acta Organologica 31, 2009, 15-86]