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New Russian Organ


John Sayer
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Those who have been following Barry Jordan's account of the new Schuke organ in the Magdeburger Dom may be interested to learn that the same firm has just started installing a new instrument of similar size in the cathedral in Kaliningrad, formerly Königsberg, capital of East Prussia.

 

The Kaliningrad region is today a Russian exclave, cut off from the rest of the Federation by surrounding Poland and Lithuania. The Dom, in typical Hanseatic red-brick gothic, was reduced to a ruin following British bombing and Russian bombardment at the end of WWII. After decades of difficult and protracted restoration, much of it funded by (West) German money, the building new serves mainly as a state-owned cultural centre, though incorporating both Lutheran and Orthodox chapels.

 

The Schuke firm have already installed a Choir organ of about 30 stops, with a 4-manual console from which the new instrument on the west gallery will also be playable. The full specification has yet to be announced but is expected to be around 120 stops and 11,000 pipes, making it the largest instrument in Russia. The magnificent early 18c. case is being reconstructed with the aid of pre-war photographs.

 

Perhaps the most interesting fact about the new organ is that much of the cost is reported to be provided personally by President Putin, whose wife, Ludmilla, comes from the Kaliningradskaja Oblast. It is possible that Putin acquired an appreciation for organ music during his years as KGB Chief in Dresden during the GDR era.

 

The new organ should be finished by Christmas. I plan to pay a visit in the autumn and hope to be in a position to report on progress.

 

JS

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Perhaps the most interesting fact about the new organ is that much of the cost is reported to be provided personally by President Putin, whose wife, Ludmilla, comes from the Kaliningradskaja Oblast. It is possible that Putin acquired an appreciation for organ music during his years as KGB Chief in Dresden during the GDR era.

 

JS

 

Maybe! But to conduct those sweet memories into the funding of an organ rebuild in Kaliningrad might have much "harder" reasons:

- to keep the Germans in Germany sympathetic with his gas pipeline, resp. gas supertanker route project from the Russia to Germany, making its way through the baltic sea and leaving Poland aside....?

- to help nostalgic Germans in Germany and similar "elements" in the baltic region bearing in mind, that russia will never resign in that exclave (which is important, as the surrounding baltic states have separated themselves from the former SU as much as possible, as you know)....

 

Late officers of the legendary GDR state security department "Staatssicherheit" ("Stasi" - mind the oscar awarded movie "Das Leben der anderen" ["The Life of the others"]), who were on duty together with Putin in Dresden in his years, reported, that, regarding his age, Putin reached a very high position within the career system of KGB officers quite early. He definitely was a 120% guy, and most probably he still is....

 

Whe should bear this in mind. But looking forward to the creation of an presumably interesting instrument should be allowed, too... :D

 

NB: I'm Austrian!

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Maybe! But to conduct those sweet memories into the funding of an organ rebuild in Kaliningrad might have much "harder" reasons:

- to keep the Germans in Germany sympathetic with his gas pipeline, resp. gas supertanker route project from the Russia to Germany, making its way through the baltic sea and leaving Poland aside....?

- to help nostalgic Germans in Germany and similar "elements" in the baltic region bearing in mind, that russia will never resign in that exclave (which is important, as the surrounding baltic states have separated themselves from the former SU as much as possible, as you know)....

 

Late officers of the legendary GDR state security department "Staatssicherheit" ("Stasi" - mind the oscar awarded movie "Das Leben der anderen" ["The Life of the others"]), who were on duty together with Putin in Dresden in his years, reported, that, regarding his age, Putin reached a very high position within the career system of KGB officers quite early. He definitely was a 120% guy, and most probably he still is....

 

Whe should bear this in mind. But looking forward to the creation of an presumably interesting instrument should be allowed, too... :D

 

NB: I'm Austrian!

 

 

==============================

 

 

Anyone who can survive the KGB and make it big, embrace a degree of democratic freedom, hold Russia together, grab back the oil from the Oligarcs, marry an English girl AND support a new organ-project, has to earn my respect.

 

I suspect he is enormously intelligent and more than a little scary.

 

MM

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The Schuke crews are enormously busy at the moment; hey are also installing an organ in Zamora (Mexico) - http://www.schuke.com/imglib/Zamora_gross.jpg - 51 stops - and have just finished an organ III/34 for the Academy of Music in Poznan. And they have also just completed the restoration of the Köhler organ of the Kreuzkirche in Suhl. One may ask how a 30 man firm turns out well over 250 stops in one year, and restores a bunch of others at the same time.... one answer is, one turns to pensioned-off former employees!

 

One of the interesting things about the Königsberg project is the reconstruction of the historical case, which was entirely lost. This is however not being done by Schuke or their usual contractor Andreas Klein (who learned the organ builders craft at Schukes but then took over the family joinery, an ideal constellation perhaps). The organ will not however be modelled on the historical instrument.

 

The trucks left for Russia last week, and installation will begin shortly. All 4 voicers are currently here in Magdeburg; after the summer two will stay here and two will go to Königsberg, but it will be extremely difficult to get the job done by Christmas. The organ here will take at least until the end of September, probably longer.

 

 

Incidentally, after a bumpy start, the work here is going very well and I am very pleased with what I have heard up to now.

 

Cheers

Barry

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  • 1 year later...

If it’s still of interest, the cathedral has a website at http://www.sobor-kaliningrad.ru

 

with the organ page here http://www.sobor-kaliningrad.ru/index.php?page_id=228

 

Organ spec is here http://www.schuke.com/files/Disp%20HO.pdf

 

and wikepedia article here http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Königsberger_Dom

 

I have been doing a bit of research as I have been asked to do a couple of recitals there in the summer. The first of these is themed around reconciliation between the UK, Russia and Germany, and to remember the many victims of the bombing of the city in WWII, especially the children. There is a wonderful DVD about the construction of the two organs which can be obtained from the cathedral.

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