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

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Leon Cathedral and Diocesan Museum Organ by Francisco Santos 1739 Italy

Leon Cathedral and Diocesan Museum. Francisco Santos. 1739.

Like all realejos organs, constructed to be transported, it is of small size. Its purpose was to accompany the song, or cover the regular repertoire of worship processional festivities. The date of construction follows from an inscription that reads clearly within the year of 1739, but it also has some characteristics to confirm this dating. The divided keyboard has 45 notes and short octave. Also by its limited size, stops are minimal, the pipes are all inside the cabinet. The cabinet doors may be closed.

Cabanilles Joan Baptista (1644-1712): Corrente Italiana (Lucía Riaño)

The work of Juan Cabanilles (1644-1712), Italian Corrente, will allow us to hear the beautiful recording of this organ of Leon. Starting with registration, the performance starts with the right hand cornet and flute, and left with a flute solo. The first section of binary rhythm is repeated without horn, only to reappear in the next. In the last section the player incorporates full organ to diminish gradually to the flute solo. This book, actually a set of variations on the basis of a dance called Italian corrente, an italic variant of the French courante, reflects the ease of Cabanilles to incorporate non-Hispanic elements, which imbues them with a strong personality.

Text: María Antonia Virgili Blanquet.
Lucia Riaño, organ (in a recording made on 16 and 17 February 1992 at the Cathedral of León).

divided keyboard

Left ................................Right:
Flautado (covered), 4'.............. Flautado (covered) 4 '
Eighth, 2'...........................Octa is, 2nd
Full 3 h, 1'.........................Full 3h.
Cornet ............................. 3h., 2 2 / 3 '

Of the organ builder who built it, possibly Francisco Santos as recorded in an inscription inside, hardly anything is known. Acitores Federico, in his report and proposed restoration of this instrument, it ascribes to the Echevarria shop for some details such as different brands of the first pipe of each stop, leading the rest of those who make the series also supports it's own making of the pipes and the quality of the metal they are made.

The restoration was done, as we have indicated, by Federico Acitores organ builder, by reason of having been exposed at the Cathedral of Valladolid, in the first phase of the exposure of The Ages of Man. At the same, apart from the cleaning of all the elements have been recovered all the potential of existing pipes and built the rest, ensuring that the equipment used was as close to the former.

The keyboard has been rebuilt and replaced the missing keys. Also were done: the clearing, inspection and cleaning of the wind chest, repair of the bellows and the pump mechanism pulled by ropes. On this last point, we did not consider the installation of an electric blower, because of the danger posed by the changing of the dynamics of wind-driven by a motor. The noise audible in the hearing of the work recorded on this organ should therefore only from the string used to give air to the manually operated bellows according to early tradition in the intonation of these instruments.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

St. Jacobi Kirche Hamburg

"Photo: Martin Doering /

'Concertato' Prelude from Prelude and Fugue in D BWV 532

John Scott Whiteley of York Minster plays the Arp Schnitger organ at the Jakobikirche Hamburg. Restored by Jurgen Ahrend.


Most remarkable without doubt is the famous organ built by Arp Schnitger in 1693. With its 60 stops and about 4,000 pipes it is one of the largest baroque-style organs in northern Europe. The Arp Schnitger Organ of St. Jacobi in Hamburg is the largest Baroque organ of the North German type in terms of its resonant capacity. It is a cultural monument of inestimable value. Its oldest parts date back to the time of the Reformation and have been part of the organ ever since. During the destruction of the church in 1944 some damage occurred to the organ as well, yet more than 80% of its substance remained intact. After major restoration work in 1993, it is now as radiant and beautiful as ever.

Between 1989 and 1993 the organ was completely restored and has been played in every Sunday service since its new dedication on Easter morning of 1993. An instrument of such quality is an obligation: regular organ concerts are performed and a weekly tour of the organ for those interested in its techniques is offered. Because of its organ St. Jacobi is a place of “pilgrimage” for “professionals” – organ builders and organists from around the world. In 1995, St. Jacobi hosted an international symposium on north German organ and figural music of the 17th century.

The Arp Schnitger Organ of St. Jacobi possesses the largest collection of pipes from the 16th and 17th centuries to be found in one single instrument. Approximately one quarter of them dates back to the days before Arp Schnitger, among which are pipes from the "dynasties" of the famous organ builders Scherer and Fritsche. Thanks to their skills and fame, Hamburg became an outstanding location in the development of organ construction from the late 16th century onwards.
However, it is not merely the age of Arp Schnitger's organ nor the number of round about 4,000 pipes which constitute the instrument's extraordinary value: The pipes have a striking sound and are set together in a most skilful manner. Moreover, the diversity of the 60 stops is breathtaking. Thus St. Jacobi has become a place of pilgrimage for organists and organ lovers from all around the world because of its organ. Come and visit St. Jacobi and the weekly organ concert and guided tour through history and construction of the organ every Thursday at noon (free of charge). Or celebrate with us in our services every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. in which the organ has an important part. During the summer months regular organ concerts on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. are played by internationally renowned organists.

Specification after the restoration 1993

Rückpositiv / CDE-c'''
Principal 8' JA
Gedackt 8' SCH/FRI
Quintadena 8' SCH/FRI
Octava 4' FRI/AS
Blockflöht 4' SCH/FRI
Querpfeiff 2' FRI/JA
Octava 2' FRI/AS
Sexquialtera 2f. FRI/AS
Scharff 6-8f. FRI/JA
Siffloit 2f./2' FRI
Dulcian 16' AS
Bahrpfeiffe 8' AS/JA
Trommet 8' LEH

Hauptwerck / CDEFGA-c'''
Principal 16' JA
Quintadehn 16' FRI/AS
Octava 8' SCH*/AS
Spitzflöht 8' AS
Viola da Gamba 8' LEH
Octava 4' SCH/AS
Rohrflöht 4' SCH/AS
Flachflöht 2' JA
Rauschpfeiff 2f. SCH/AS
SuperOctav 2' AS
Mixtur 6-8f. FRI/AS
Trommet 16' FRI/AS

Oberpositiv /CDEFGA-c'''
Principal 8' AS/JA
Rohrflöht 8' AS
Holtzflöht 8' AS
Spitzflöht 4' AS
Octava 4' SCH
Nasat 3' AS
Octava 2' FRI
Gemshorn 2' SCH/FRI
Scharff 4-6f. FRI/JA
Cimbel 3' AS/JA
Trommet 8' AS
Vox Humana 8' AS
Trommet 4' AS/JA
"Photo: Martin Doering /

Brustpositiv / CDEFA-c'''

Principal 8' FRI?
Octav 4' AS/JA
Hollflöht 4' AS
Waldflöht 2' AS
Sexquialtera 2f. SCH/FRI
Scharff 4-6f. AS
Dulcian 8' AS
Trechter Regal 8' AS

Pedal / CD-d'
Principal 32' JA/ AS
Octava 16'
Subbaß 16' AS
Octava 8' AS
Octava 4' FRI?
Nachthorn 2' AS
Rauschpfeiff 3f. FRI/ AS
Mixtur 6-8f. FRI/ AS
Posaune 32' AS
Posaune 16' AS
Dulcian 16 AS
Trommet 8' AS
Trommet 8' AS
Cornet 2' AS

Auxiliary stops
5 Valves and
1 Maine valve
2 Schiebekoppeln
2 Tremulants
2 Cimbelsterns
1 Totentrommel

Sch = Scherer (*earlier)
Fri = Fritzsche
AS = Arp Schnitger
Leh = Johann Jakob Lehnert
JA = Jürgen Ahrend

Tuning: Upon the restoration in 1993, a tuning system was chosen which stays close to the historic original, but still allows for a broad band of music to be played.

It is a modified-moderate tuning of the type 1/5 syntonic comma. This system offers a relative purity of thirds in the basic keys. In the peripheral keys F-sharp major and C sharp major, some hard contrasts have to be put up with.

Almost all the works of Johann Sebastian Bach can be rendered on the Arp-Schnitger-organ.

Pitch: 495,45 Hz at 18º Celsius
493,85 Hz at 16º Celsius
Wind pressure: 80 mm WS

The windchests of St. Jacobi's organ were built by Arp Schnitger. They are made of oak wood. Since the 19th century some regrettable changes to the original substance had been made. After World War II additional channels were installed, the suspension of the valves was changed, and improper storage had led to splits in the wood, etc.

The restoration of Arp Schnitger's organ in St. Jacobi was the most expensive one ever undertaken on a historic instrument. Together with the necessary construction work (support construction for the gallery), a total of 6 million DM (about 3 million US-$) was spent. Thanks to the support of Hamburg`s citizens as well as the willingness of public and church institutions to take responsibility this outstanding cultural monument could be restored in such exemplary manner.
The impulse for restoring the organ to its original state came from an international symposium in 1983. The church council decided to have the organ renovated and appoint a committee of experts. The Dutch music expert and organ specialist Cor Edskes documented the status quo from 1985-87. Afterwards the organ builder Jürgen Ahrend who already had received several awards for renovating historic Arp Schnitger organs, got the commission in 1986.

The restoration work performed at the shop of Jürgen Ahrend in 1993 brought the valuable old core back to its full blossom: the valves run smoothly now and the securely positioned windchests cannot break again.
The wind is now supplied by six wedge bellows (2,4mx2m). In case of an energy blackout they can be foot operated, just like in the old days.

The original manuals had been destroyed in 1944. In the course of the last renovation a new construction of the manuals was discussed because those inserted by Kemper after the war, did not correspond to the historic example in any way, neither in form nor function and were therefore disposed of.

A copy of the construction made by Johann Paul Geycke in 1774 was considered. However, the organ commission recommended a reconstruction true to Schnitger which was thought to be in harmony with the overall concept. The keyboards have keys made of ebony and boxwood. To their left and right are the turned plumtree wood stops. Those have been placed according to the original order. Their inscriptions match the naming used in a contract by the organist Johann Joachim Heitmann in 1721. This is the earliest information on the spedification given by Schnitger himself.

The Arp Schnitger organ is an excellent example of the North German monumental type. Its base is the very deep and low trombone 32' stop in the pedal.
The 60 stops are divided over the four manuals and the pedal. Every division has a principal plenum, crowned by a multichoir mixture (vielchörige Mixtur).

The oldest pipes of St. Jacobi's organ date back to the time of the Reformation. Arp Schnitger incorporated them into his new instrument which was completed in 1693. E.g., the four lowest tones of the octave 8' in the main traction were made by Iversand/Stüven in 1512, the reed flute 4' by Jacob Scherer in 1546. More than 80% of the old material has remained intact over the centuries. Only the front pipes had to be handed over to the army during World War I, in spite of a storm of protest. Seventeen flute stops of varied constructions and sounds create a unique range of sound quality unequalled by any other instrument. Moreover, there are 15 reeds which are replicates of renaissance wind instruments and add to the colourful range of sounds. Hans Henny Jahnn admired the "size and wisdom of the diapason and the selection of voices".



Toccata BWV 538 Koopman, Schnitger organ
BWV 540 JS Bach: Toccata in fa major BWV 530: allegro
BWV 529: Allegro (3rd movement)
BWV 529: Allegro / Largo
BWV 528: adagio-vivace / andante / un poco allegro
BWV 527: Vivace BWV 527: andante, adagio e dolce
BWV 526 BWV 525: no tempo indications, Adagio

Monday, March 1, 2010

The 1531 organ in the church of Krewerd in the province of Groningen Holland

The organ was built in 1531 by an unknown builder.

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck Toccata
Monumenta Musica Neerlandica This is a new recording from this toccata, on the Krewerd organ by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck 1562 / 1621, was a Dutch composer, organist, and pedagogue whose work originated at the end of the Renaissance and beginning of the Baroque eras. He was among the first major keyboard composers of Europe.

The Krewerd organ is an organ built in 1533 in a small village in Groningen:


Prestant 8'
Holpyp 8'
Sesquialtera II st. disc.
Fluyt 4'
Octaaf 4'
Octaaf 2'
Quint 3'

In this video Jan Steen and I used pictures by H. Edskes & E. Kooiman of the organ.


Upon entering the church, the organ immediately draws attention. Because of the grey patina and the weather-beaten tin of the front pipes the organ radiates an impressive and long history. The organ, from an unknown builder, goes back to 1531. It is one of the most ancient still playable organs of the Netherlands. A curiosity of the organ are the panels on the left and the right sides. The painted pipe work dates from 1634.

Periods of change

About the times of change one can only guess. A mention on one of the panels at the front of the organ ín 1634 "met leteren en schilderyen verciert" makes the claim that the hatches have been painted/restored in 1634.
According to the text "dit orgel gants gerepareert" the organ would have been totally renovated in the year 1686.

In 1731 Nicolaas Willenbroek was ordered by noblewoman Ripperda to install a new C and Cis wind chest with corresponding mechanism and manual. Willenbroek was a fellow worker of Franz Caspar Schnitger who died in 1729.

In 1775, 1807 and 1844 major "dry repairs" were carried out by Lohman.

In 1857, Freytag constructed three big pine bellows and the corresponding wind trunk. The oak channel to the chest had to be increased in size. To situate these bellows behind the organ the bay of the choir was largely covered with a balcony.
Freytag replaced also the Quint 1 ½ ft bas/ Sesquialter 2 ranks discant by a stopped Flute 4 ft and the Mixtuur 4-5-6 ranks by a Gamba 8 ft discant.

In 1974/1975, restoration by organ builder Albert Hendrik de Graaf. Repair of the leaking wind chest without altering the original construction. New switches and nameplates. Restoration of the manual and the pedal. Restoration of some damaged pipes. Change of the Gamba discant by a Sesquialter 2 ranks discant.

In agreement with the restorers of the church the bellows in the SE-corner of the choir were situated on the ground floor.

The organ of Krewerd survived several wars and floods; however in 1967 the final curtain seemed to fall. The state of the church building was abominable. People even spoke about demolition of the building and the selling of the organ. But the church warden of the independent Dutch Reformed Community Krewerd, farmer Marten Alje Bos protested fiercely against this threat. And with success. Bos was supported by others, including the mayor at that time, Mr. Brons.
Church and tower were restored by Monumentenzorg (monument care). Organ builder/restorer Albert Hendrik de Graaf (* reference footnote to biography of Mr. De Graaf) took very good care of the organ.
He writes:
From 1968 onwards they put the organ in my care. I was allowed to mend the instrument during the period of 1972-1975. This restoration had a preservation intention. It was very important that the sound was not going to be damaged. It seemed to be better to replace the pipes without alteration, after restoration of the wind drawer. In only a few cases were repairs unavoidable.

The pitch,
The pitch is now (2006) more than one semitone higher then a=440 Herz.

The specification has been unchanged, from the renewal in 1731, with the exception of the Mixture and Sesquialter, removed in 1857.

The ages-old gothic organ with its maximum of resonance and volume and also with the very attractive radiant voices is from a rare and rugged sort of beauty.
It's a miracle that in the remote landscape of Groningen this precious instrument in the old church of Krewerd has been preserved during all these years.

Source: The organ in the church of Krewerd., Albert Hendrik de Graaf
Local Committee Krewerd of the "Stichting Oude Groninger Kerken".

Technical information:
Tuning: nearly a whole tone above normal.
1/4-comma meantone without modifications.
Windpressure: 89 mm
3 Bellows (1857)
5 stops are original

The specification is as follows:
Manual: C D E F G A - c3

Prestant 8'                    1531/Original
Holpyp 8'                       1531/Original
Sesquialtera ll disc.  1975/de Graaf
Fluyt  4'                         1857/Freytag
Octaaf 4'                       1531/Original
Octaaf 2'                       1531/Original
Quint 3'                         1531/Original

Pull-down pedal using cords.
C, D, E, F, G, A, A sharp, B, C, C sharp, D

Gwendolyn Toth plays Annavasanna tertia from the Buxheimer Orgelbuch (c.1470) on the 1531 organ in Krewerd, The Netherlands. July 2008

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