Martin Balz

German Organ Tablature and its Influence on Musical Performance

Music for keyboard instruments in German-speaking countries was usually notated in the so-called „German organ tablature“ until shortly after 1700. An examination is made of how perfomance using tablature differs from performance using standard notation. The notation also allows for the reading and analysis of a composition. The tablature is primarily a guide to perfomance which interprets the piece as a series of musical ideas. This has the consequence that when playing a piece using tablature, the organist is initially something akin to a „tool for performance“ and only after multiple repetitions is it possible to enter more deeply into an understanding of the piece and its true character. Therefore, German organ tablature was finally replaced by musical notation at the beginning of the 18th century. The production of keyboard music with notes in score form by Samuel Scheidt (Tabulatura nova, 1624) and Michael Praetorius (and the subsequent publication of tablature for use in performance to which both composers made explicit reference) greatly assisted the study.
The notation of music for instrumental ensembles in tablature – such as in the cantatas of Buxtehude – apparently had the purpose of allowing this music to be reproduced in the same way as is possible in a modern day piano reduction.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 367-378]


Christian Binz

The organ of the former cistercien convent in Oberwesel,
its builder Otto Reinhard Metzenius, and the wooden principal

The Organ of the closed convent in Oberwesel was set up in the catholic parish church St. Martin in Waldhilbersheim. This instrument was presumably built around 1726 by Otto Reinhard Metzinius. In 1925 the Organ suffered severe damage by fire, only the upper part of the organ case still exists.
Metzenius, native of Hessen, was active in the region near Schwäbisch Hall about 1700, from 1708 on he worked in the Mittelrhein and in Hunsrück, from about 1734 on in Alsace, where he died in 1743.
Metzenius'organs display a preference for a wooden Principal inside the organ case. This rigister is also found in the work of the Mittelrhein builders Johan Friedrich Macrander and Johann Michael Stumm, the latter took it aparently over from Metzenius. Macrander knew the wooden principal from his teacher Paulus Prescher in Nördlingen, Metzenius could also have become at first acquainted with the register in northerly Württemberg.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 125-142]


Christoph Bossert

The special nature of South German tonal principles after 1670 within the European style, seen as the origin of the romantic organ

The tonal principles of the South German organ are described, with reference to:
The concept of foundation stops in the sense of “differentials”.
The principle of shading by linking two manuals in the manner of an “echo”, as Pars major and Pars minor;
The characteristics of the speech behaviour of flute and string stops;
The concept of mutation stops;
The concept of mixtures;
The concept of reed stops;
The provision of stops in the 16ft and 32ft range.
Further, the author notes an increasing tendency to couple manuals together, whereby a crescendo becomes possible and the principle of tonal diffusion gradually leads away from the “Werkprinzip”.
These developments, which in Europe reached their full extent only with the South German organ, led to a new flexibility in organ sound. This flexibility is founded on the principle of tonal shading and, with reference to the use of foundation colours, signifies a departure from the paradigm of Äqualverbot – the principle whereby more than one 8ft stop should not be drawn at the same time – which was initially prevalent until the 17th century. Subtle tonal transitions thus became possible in an entirely new way. The combination of all these factors created the conditions for the emergence of the romantic organ, as typified by the work of Eberhard Friedrich Walcker.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 35-50]


Hermann Fischer

Angels, Musicians and Other Symbolic Figures on Organ Prospects

Gothic organ cases had painted doors and ornate carvings; they were thus designed in a way similar to altars. With the Renaissance and Baroque periods came the division into towers and flats along with the opportunity to place figures atop the upper cornices.
The ornamental figurines symbolized a perpetually performing „heavenly orchestra“ of winged angels (with musical instruments) or presented scenes from salvation history. The angels were portrayed as youths or children (Putten), playing wind and string instruments, singing or conducting. In the late middle ages, King David with his harp was already a symbolic figure for church music; later one also finds St. Cecilia with organ or portative. We also encounter images of Christ as Savior or God the Father as the „eye of God“ etc. Stars, suns, less often the moon, are symbols of the „music of the spheres“. Animals are less common, most often seen in the form of an eagle or pelican. The Baroque period was also fond of moving figures: eagles flap their wings, angels begin to play instruments or keep the tempo.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 11-34]


Markus T. Funck

Organ Restorations in Stralsund

With its three large Gothic period brick churches and prized organs, the Hanseatic city of Stralsund is known as one of the prominent organ building centers of the Baltic Sea region. In the church of St. Marien one finds a very large instrument built in 1659 by the Lübecker Friedrich Stellwagen. Carl August Buchholz (of Berlin) built three important organs: those of the Holy Ghost Church (1829), the Church of St. Nicholas (1841) and the church of the outlying village of Voigdehagen (1846). The organ of the Church of St. Jakobi was installed in 1877 by the Stralsund organ builder, Friedrich Albert Daniel Mehmel.
Restoration of the organ of the Church of St. Mary was started in 2004 and completed four years later in 2008. The team of restorers included Kristian Wegscheider (Dresden), Hans van Rossum (Andel, NL) and Gunter Böhme (Dresden). Organ builder Kristian Wegscheider (Dresden) and specialists from the company Orgelbau Klais (of Bonn) restored the organ of the Church of St. Nicholas in a project that lasted from 2003 until 2006.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 51-75]


Wolfram Hackel (ed.)

Workers of the Kreutzbach Organ Building Workshop of Borna

It was in 1828 that Urban Kreutzbach (1796–1868) established his organ building workshop in Borna, district of Leipzig. During the years that followed, Kreutzbach developed his workshop into the leading and most influential in all of Saxony. This success was continued by both of Urban's sons, Richard (1839–1903) and Bernhard (born in 1843). Richard subsequently managed the workshop alone from 1876 until 1903.
Kreutzbach's workshop was the destination for many apprentice organ builders who, following their formal studies, sought opportunities to gain invaluable practical experience. Documents housed in Borna's City Archives reveal the names of 84 such organ builders and 31 carpenters who worked at the Kreutzbach workshop; some for but a short time and others for longer periods. This store of information also includes a wealth of biographical, organological and bibliographic data. It is important to note that more than 30 of these organ builders (including Friedrich Ladegast, Gotthilf Bärmig, Julius Strobel, Friedrich Gerhardt, Hermann Kopp, Emil Wiegand and Daniel Roetzel) later went on to establish their own workshops. Thus it was in this manner that both established knowledge as well as new ideas about organ building was disseminated.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 263-296]


Roland Hentzschel

The organ builder Johann Gottlieb Mauer

Records of the organ builder Johann Gottlieb Mauer's work in historic Saxony exist between 1764 and 1803. He was highly estimated as the "University Organ Builder" in Leipzig but was also widely known due to his work on the St. Thomas Church's organ. His Organ for Tegkwitz (1769) can be found in the Händel-Haus at Halle (Saale) today. The article summarizes nearly all known sources about Mauer's life and work.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 143-154]


Max Reinhard Jaehn

The Collected Design Specifications of Organ Builder Theodor Vogt (Lübeck)

Theodore Vogt (1811–1884), a student of Johann Gottlob Mende of Leipzig, was an organ builder from 1883 until 1872 in Lübeck, and then later an organist of the German Reformed Church until his death in 1884. Of the few organs that he built, there remain two to this day. His primary duties were to care for and repair the many, mostly large old instruments both in the city and the surrounding region. In about 1843, Vogt assembled a collection of 30 design specifications compiled during his years as an organ builder. He continued to add information to this collection until about 1848. This collection was re-discovered in 1978 and has been published with accompanying commentary.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 191-229]


Max Reinhard Jaehn

Organ Pipes for Victory!
War Bureaucracy in Northern Germany in 1917 and 1944

During the First World War, in the imperial German and Austrian territories, tin was officially seized by the state, impounded and converted into raw materials for the war and armament industries for the first time in the history of the pipe organ. The process developed in its planning and execution with formal bureaucratic exactitude and led to administrative costs that in the third year of the war were astounding and even could be seen as macabre. The abundance of volumes produced at that time which are available in north German archives offer even today a record of each individual step in this undertaking. It is also possible to arrive at a quantitative balance of the amount of tin in the year 1917 which the region was expected to provide. The archival volumes additionally reveal not only a glimpse into the makeshift solutions for the organs that had been robbed of their pipes but also the attempts to hinder or avoid the impoundment altogether.
In 1944 officials considered again the idea of taking raw materials out of organs and they wanted to reinstate the impoundment of organ pipes. However, the state of the war and further problems noted in this article hindered the implementation of this plan. What remained was an exhaustive supply of registration forms. These forms have served up until the present as a type of inventory for research into organs throughout all of Germany.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 319-365]


Martin Kares

The Ferdinand Stieffel organ of the Karlsruhe Castle and its fate

For the church of the Karlsruhe Castle, built between 1752 and 1775 a new organ was built in 1786 by Ferdinand Stieffel (1737-1818) of Ratstatt. The instrument was fitted with an „Unterwerk“ instead of a „Rückpositiv“, and with a free-standing console.
In 1871 Louis Voit from Durlach moved this Organ to the evangelical church in Langensteinbach. An unforunate position over the altar, and rebuildings (1900, 1951) distorted the instrument. In 1957 Peter Vier moved the Organ to the upper level of a new gallery at the back of the church, and with the cooperation of the office for historic monuments transformed the „Unterwerk“ into a „Rückpositiv“.
In 2009 came a new transformation by the workshops of Martin Vier and Andreas Schiegnitz. Goal of this work was bettering of the technical condition and a stronger reference to the tone status of the Stieffel original. It could not be a reconstruction of the original, only a reorganisation of existing materials with some additions. All existing original parts remain in substance untouched. Those which were spoiled by rebuilding or taken from their original context were restored. So were the results of earlier generations treated with maximum respect.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 155-172]


Konrad Küster

Peter Heydorn
Two North German Musicians of the late 17th century

„Peter Heydorn“ was a name shared by two north German musicians active at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries. When referring to “Peter Heydorn” it therefore becomes imperative to differentiate between two men. The elder of the two was active as organist in Hamburg and Krempe. Towards the end of his career he performed on the imposing organ in Itzehoe. In 1693 after having fathered a second illegitimate child he lost his post and fled to England, where he died, reputedly in 1715. The elder Peter Heydorn was the uncle of the second musician of the same name, who was born in 1674.
The nephew Peter Heydorn applied unsuccessfully for organ positions at the Hamburger Dom as well as in Rendsburg and Lüneburg (at the church of St. Johannis, where Georg Böhm was principle organist). Like his uncle, he moved to England and died in London in 1702 after having held a position at St Martin-in-the-Fields.
The compositions of Peter Heydorn bequeathed to us are attributed to the elder of the two musicians; the works follow artistic principles of an individual nature and make a unique contribution to the north German organ repertoire.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 379-404]


John Maidment / Mark Tuckett

William Anderson: An Organ Builder of the 19th Century in Melbourne

William Anderson was – besides George Fincham and Alfred Fuller – one of the three leading organ builders in late 19th century Melbourne, Australia.  Born in London in 1832, he emigrated to Melbourne with his parents in 1850; his father was a piano manufacturer. Anderson perceived opportunities for building organs in Melbourne, which became a wealthy metropolis later that century with a population approaching half a million people. Undertaking organ building training in England in 1864, Anderson built around 25 new instruments for churches and public buildings in the state of Victoria and Tasmania and additionally installed a number of second-hand organs that he had acquired.
His instruments were conservative in their design, deriving from a mid-19th century English model; their tonal design, casework and consoles were largely standardized. He obtained metal pipework from his rival Fincham or from Britain and made his own wooden pipes, actions, and windchests. A number of these instruments survive in a largely intact state. Anderson died in Brighton, Victoria, in 1921.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 231-262]


Alfred Reichling

Between Josephine Reform and the Biedermeier: Organ Builders and Organ Building in Southwestern Germany and the Alpine Regions during Difficult Times

Throughout history, organs have not only been built, but, whether from war, catastophic fires, iconoclasm or blatant vandalism, have also been destroyed. The narrative provides examples of those organs lost following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars after 1790 and during the early 19th century. The reforms that the "enlightened" Emperor Joseph II put into place throughout the Habsburg Empire during the 1780s resulted in the closure of many Monasteries. Such actions were likewise taken in the German states during the 'secularization' of 1803. This, along with the increasingly impoverished state of the general population resulted in the drastic falling off of large organ building commissions from these Monasteries; indeed, there were very few new organs built at all during this difficult time. The decline of the organ building family Holzhey during the two generations following Johann Nepomuk (who died in 1809) is symptomatic of the conditions at that period. It wasn't until about 1820 that organ building began to slowly recover.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 173-189]


Alfred Reichling

A Workshop Brochure by Heinrich Schiffner (1898)

In 1898, Heinrich Schiffner (1853–1938), an organ builder in Prague, published a 22-page advertising brochure in which he described himself as continuing the long tradition of fine organ building in that city, carried on over five generations by the Gartner family and subsequently by his older brother Karl Schiffner (1836–1894). Heinrich directed the company starting in 1888, at that time building organs incorporating mechanical sliding windchests and, after 1896, tubular pneumatic action. Six pages are devoted to the detailed functioning of this new system, especially with regard to the notion of octave couplers (super and sub-octave couplers, particularly in small organs). This is then followed by procedures for making offers and provides customers with criteria designed to help them evaluate offers. This brochure also contains a list of the 96 organs that Schiffner built during the previous 10 years. The final part of this very interesting brochure (shown in facsimile) contains quotes from testimonials attesting to the quality of these instruments.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 297-318]


Jiří Sehnal

The Organ in the Life and Work of Leoš Janáček

Already in childhood, Janáček (1854–1928), the son of a village teacher, was exposed to the organ. He was a chorister from 1865 to 1869 in the Augustinian monastery Staré Brno (Old Brno) in Brno and learned to play the organ on the old Baroque instrument there. In the years 1874-75 he studied at the Prague Organ School, where he became acquainted with new trends in organ building. In 1876, together with Pavel Křížkovský, his teacher at the time, he was involved in the construction of the first organ in Moravia with a mechanical cone chest. The instrument (II/25) was built as Op. 146 of the firm G. F. Steinmeyer & Co. at the Augustinian monastery in Old Brno. Janáček was very impressed by the sound of this organ; henceforth it became for him the ideal par excellence of how an organ should sound. From 1881 to 1919 Janáček was director of the Brno Organ School. Curiously, he never gave organ lessons himself and was never involved in the testing of new organs. His compositional interest tended more toward the creation of dramatic works, especially opera. Nevertheless, he played at events at the organ school, using improvisation. Based on reports of former students, his improvisations were said to have been distinguished by imaginative accumulation and increase of brief motifs and unexpected harmonic twists. However, a full thematic development was foreign to him.
Janáček left behind only a few organ compositions. His first organ works still show typical features of the Prague Organ School, but also the influence of the sound possibilities of the Steinmeyer organ, in addition there are some interesting harmonic twists and irregular rhythms.
In his mature work he used the organ in oddly effective ways in pieces where its presence was not entirely justified by the subject matter. Here may be mentioned the sequence-like organ solos played over a pedal point in the orchestral rhapsody Taras Bulba (1921). Most frequently performed is the postlude for the Glagolitic Mass (1927). This piece, which was likely composed at the piano, clearly shows the compositorial characteristics of the mature master: a persistent repetition of short, quick motives with amazing and constantly changing harmonies.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 405-438]


Hermann von Strauch

A Chronicle of the Organ in the Stadtkirche St. Martin in Zschopau

After having been destroyed in the fire of 1634 in Zschopau the church of St. Martin was eventually reconstructed and in 1649 newly inaugurated.  A new organ by Christoph Donat the elder (1625–1706) was eventually installed and inaugurated in 1660. After a repeated fire in 1749 a two-manual organ with 33 stops was built by Jacob Oertel (died in1762) between 1753 and 1755; the case has survived until the present day. The Gottfried Silbermann organ of St. Petri in Freiberg served as Oertel’s model. The organ was repaired in1812 by Johann Christian Günther and in 1865 by Christian Friedrich Göthel, and between the years of 1874 and 1890 it was maintained by Guido Hermann Schäf. In 1932 the firm of A. Schuster and Son (Zittau) overhauled the instrument, adding a pneumatic motor. After a reconstruction of the organ by Georg Wünnung in 1996 (completed in 2003) it was outfitted with its original stop list.

[Acta Organologica 32, 2011, 77-124]