Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Klapmeyer-Organ (1730), Altenbruch GERMANY

Among the major organs of Lower Saxony, the Monumental organ in the St Nicolai Church in Altenbruch is of paramount importance not only nationally, but also in the international field. The 500-year-old instrument, the oldest in Germany, mostly consisting original preserved material, and the unusual architectural history - all of this together with the wonderful sound of this great organ, justifies all efforts to preserve the instrument.

Vincent Lübeck (1654-1740) Prelude and Fugue II in E major Michel Chapuis at the Johann Hinrich Klapmeyer organ of the St. Nicolai Church in Altenbruch

In 1497 the chaplain Johannes Coci built an Organ with six stops and eight bellows on the north side of the church near the altar. An extension was added in 1577, presumably by Matthias Mahn.

In 1647 the Oberwerk was renewed or extended by Hans Christoph Fritzsche (Hamburg). 21 years later Joachim Richborn (Lübeck) worked on the organ in Altenbruch. In 1698 the organ received individual stops or registers and the keyboard was widened by Matthias Dropa (Lüneburg).

Vincent Lübeck (1654-1740) Prelude and Fugue IV in G minor
Michel Chapuis at the Johann Hinrich Klapmeyer organ of the St. Nicolai Church in Altenbruch

Johann Hinrich Klapmeyer (Glückstadt) in 1727, moved the organ at the tower site to the newly built West Empore. He maintained the Rückpositiv and Hauptwerk of the old organ, to which he added two new pedal towers and a Brustwerk (as the third Manual) with 6 stops/registers. After this the organ remained almost unchanged until the 20th century. Its disposition comprises 35 registers divided over 3 manuals and pedal. It is, together with the Lüdingworther organ, considered to be one of the oldest organs of northern Europe. Extensive restoration measures were performed by the organ-building workshop of Jürgen Hendrik Ahrend. After completion of the work 2004, the organ was tuned to the Werckmeister III. Temperature.

The video below gives a description of the organ and its history (in German)


The instrument in the Old St. Nicholas is one of the most important monuments of Central European organ art. The Certificates issued by the “MiddleRhein association of the Eifel and the Netherlands to the Weser and Elbe”, authenticate the age of the organ pipes in the Ruck-positive and pedal. The Thuringian-Saxon art from the Dresden-born Hans Fritzsche Christopher (son of Heinrich Schütz operating under Hoforgelmachers Gottfried Fritzsche) decorated the Hauptwerk.

The changes implemented by the Siebenbürgen -born Matthias Dropa reveals influences from the Southeast European-Hapsburg tradition. Johann Friedrich Klapmeyer, from Danish Holstein, created an architectural and aural synthesis, without altering the peculiarities of the 8'principal and older pipes and created a harmonius 3 manual instrument.

In the middle of the 17th century Klapmeyer also built organs in Kiedrich (Rheingau), Klosterneuburg near Vienna or Prague / These organs no longer exist and thus the Altenbrucher Klapmeyer Organ represents a landmark in the northwest German organ landscape.

For a village church it was unusual to have an organ of this size. But considering the size of the organ with 35 registers on three manuals and pedal on the one hand, and the size and importance of the twin church, once the seat of an archdiocese Archidiakonats in Bremen we can understand its functionality. Up to the time of the Enlightenment the musical Lutheran liturgy was rich with its versatile use of the organ, and an instrument of this size and color was required. For playing the organ music of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and Heinrich Scheidemann to Dietrich Buxtehude, Nicolaus Bruns and Vincent Lübeck, but also by Johann Sebastian Bach and his pupils, to Johann Christian Kittel, who himself played the instrument, the organ in the Altenbruch was an stylistically appropriate instrument.

The Nikolaikirche Altenbruch possesses a monumental organ. Construction started 1498, completion of it took place in the 1730s. It was currently restored with the proviso that the historic state from 1730 would prevail in the from the ground up restoration. The organ builder Ahrend, Leer-Loga, concluded this restoration in 2004. To maintain this organ and the Arp-Schnitger organ in the neighboring Lüdingworth church and to promote professional organ music in both churches and on both instruments, in 2006, a "Historical Foundation in Old organs in Altenbruch and Lüdingworth” was launched. The patron of the Foundation is the Federal Attorney General, Ms. Harms who has been active promoting cultural heritage.

The Klapmeyer Organ
500 years historic Altenbruch St. Nicolai
from the leaflet on organ restoration,
Supplement to the international journal "Organon"
Editing Prof. Riedel, Mainz

Masaaki Suzuki. Coci-Klapmeyer organ, Altenbruch. Werckmeister I (III) plus Chorton

Johannes Coci 1498 /
Matthias Mahn (?) 1577 /
Hans Christoph Fritzsche 1649 /
Matthias Dropa 1697/1700 /
Johann Hinrich Klapmeyer 1727/30
(r) v. Beckerath 1967/ (r)
Jürgen und Hendrik Ahrend 2003/04


(35 / HW / RP / BW / Ped)

Quintadohn 16'
Principahl 8'
Gedackt 8'
Octav 4'
Waldflöt 2'
Mixtur V
Simbel III
Trommeth 8'
Vox humana 8'
Scharff IV vor 1727
Dulcian 16' Fr/vB
Kromphorn 8' Fr/Vb

Principahl 8'
Gedackt 8'
Quintadöhn 8'
Octav 4'
Gedackt 4'
Nasat 3'
Super Octav 2' Dr
Blockflöt 2' ä
Sexquialtera II Fr

Gedacktes 8' Kl
Gedackt 4' Kl
Super Octav 2' Kl
Quint 1 1/2' Kl
Scharff III Kl
Knop Regal 8' Kl

Untersatz 16' ä*
Prinzipahl 8' Kl
Gedackt 8' Dr
Octav 4' Dr
Mixtur IV Dr
Posaun 16' Fr
Trommeth 8' ä
Corneth 2' vB**

Tremulant, Zimbelsterne, Manualkoppel

Manualumfänge: C,D,E,F,G,A, - c''' Pedalumfang: C,D,E - d'

Stimmung: gleichschwebend

ä = vor 1647 / *= aus Pfeifenmaterial von 1498
Fr = H.Chr.Fritzsche
Dr = Matth. Dropa
Kl = J.H. Klapmeyer
vB = von Beckerath / **=unter Verwendung älterer Pfeifen

Erläuterung der Abkürzungen
r = restauriert durch
rk = rekonstruiert durch
n = Neubau von
u = Umbau von
G = Gehäuse erhalten
Ppf = Prospektpfeifen erhalten

HW = Hauptwerk
RP = Rückpositiv
BW = Brustwerk
UW = Unterwerk
SW = Schwellwerk
Ped = Pedal
p = angehängtes Pedal (ohne eigene Register
I, II oder III = 1, 2 oder 3 Manuale

Vincent Lübeck (1654-1740)    Prelude and Fugue VI in C major
Michel Chapuis at the Johann Hinrich Klapmeyer organ of the St. Nicolai Church in Altenbruch

Vincent Lübeck (1654-1740) Prelude and Fugue V in C minor
Michel Chapuis at the Johann Hinrich Klapmeyer organ of the St. Nicolai Church in Altenbruch


The most apocalyptic collar shirt and sideburns...
The Stars collapse at the Klapmeyer organ in Altenbruch
The historical Klapmeyer organ at Altenbruch, Germany

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