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Largest Organ In Germany?


DaveHarries
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Hi,

 

I believe I am right in thinking that the organ in Passau Cathedral, Bavaria is the largest cathedral organ in Germany. But I believe that the organ at Passau would be not quite the largest organ in Germany overall as it is only 5 manuals and, on that grounding alone, would play second fiddle to this instrument.

 

The organ is that of Waldsassen Basilica, Germany and has 6 manuals. A great clip is on YouTube of Maxime Patel playing the Te Deum by Jeanne Demssieux:

 

 

Fairly old looking case (at a guess) but a fairly new looking console with marble surrounds. I am wondering wether anyone knows anything of the history of this insturment. Any information (or links to where I can find some) would be gladly received.

 

Probably the largest church organ in Germany? Or am I wrong on that?

 

Dave

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Hi,

 

I believe I am right in thinking that the organ in Passau Cathedral, Bavaria is the largest cathedral organ in Germany. But I believe that the organ at Passau would be not quite the largest organ in Germany overall as it is only 5 manuals and, on that grounding alone, would play second fiddle to this instrument.

 

The organ is that of Waldsassen Basilica, Germany and has 6 manuals. A great clip is on YouTube of Maxime Patel playing the Te Deum by Jeanne Demssieux:

 

 

Fairly old looking case (at a guess) but a fairly new looking console with marble surrounds. I am wondering wether anyone knows anything of the history of this insturment. Any information (or links to where I can find some) would be gladly received.

 

Probably the largest church organ in Germany? Or am I wrong on that?

 

Dave

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I believe in terms of numbers of stops and pipes Passau the largest. It is usually counted as a single organ, but in reality it is several instruments, all controlled from one console. I think there are a few German organs that are like this. I may be getting confused with somewhere else, but I think Mainz Cathedral has a two-manual console, a couple of three-manual consoles and a six-manual one to control the lot. Definitely has a six-decker, anyway - there are pics on the net. But the number of manuals is not really a very reliable indicator of size. I've seen one or two four-deckers that were actually smaller than some three-deckers.

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I believe in terms of numbers of stops and pipes Passau the largest. It is usually counted as a single organ, but in reality it is several instruments, all controlled from one console. I think there are a few German organs that are like this. I may be getting confused with somewhere else, but I think Mainz Cathedral has a two-manual console, a couple of three-manual consoles and a six-manual one to control the lot. Definitely has a six-decker, anyway - there are pics on the net. But the number of manuals is not really a very reliable indicator of size. I've seen one or two four-deckers that were actually smaller than some three-deckers.

 

I also thought the same.

 

On a practical note: I wonder how difficult it is to reach the sixth clavier - and how easy it is to read a score, particularly if it was published by UMP....

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I believe in terms of numbers of stops and pipes Passau the largest. It is usually counted as a single organ, but in reality it is several instruments, all controlled from one console. I think there are a few German organs that are like this. I may be getting confused with somewhere else, but I think Mainz Cathedral has a two-manual console, a couple of three-manual consoles and a six-manual one to control the lot. Definitely has a six-decker, anyway - there are pics on the net. But the number of manuals is not really a very reliable indicator of size. I've seen one or two four-deckers that were actually smaller than some three-deckers.

 

I quite agree.

 

I question the necessity of having so many manuals (how many hands do most organists have anyway?), despite the number of divisions the organ may have. With the advantages of modern electric action, including transfers, general combinations, etc., I cannot see why even the largest instruments cannot be controlled from a four manual console, each manual accounting for two or more divisions, if necessary.

 

Moreover, unless the organist has the arms of an orang utan, how can he/she possibly play the 6th (or even 5th) manual comfortably?

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I quite agree.

 

I question the necessity of having so many manuals (how many hands do most organists have anyway?), despite the number of divisions the organ may have. With the advantages of modern electric action, including transfers, general combinations, etc., I cannot see why even the largest instruments cannot be controlled from a four manual console, each manual accounting for two or more divisions, if necessary.

 

Moreover, unless the organist has the arms of an orang utan, how can he/she possibly play the 6th (or even 5th) manual comfortably?

 

That depends also on the rest of the console; there are organs in Holland which for me are hardly playable with only 3 manuals because of the pedal and bench 'construction' (or lack of it). On the other we have many organ-ists/-experts/-consultants who have mutliple smilitarities with orang-utans/baboons :rolleyes:

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I just wonder what defines an organ as a collection of organs played from one console or one large organ?

 

Seperate locations of pipework?

Seperate blowers?

Pipes and chests from more than one builder?

Bits of the instrument completed at different times?

Any combination of the above?

 

For instance is St Paul's Cathedral London one organ or not? - several bits of organ all over the place or how about Westminster Cathedral? Two distinct organs with two consoles, but is it ONE organ? I think you'll agree that definition is difficult!

 

Just a thought!

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To take the easy one first, I don't think anyone would really describe the Westminster Cathedral organs as a single instrument any more than they would those in French cathedrals that have a similar arrangement.

 

Otherwise I agree it is a bit grey. I would suggest that if a section/division can stand on its own satisfactorily as an independent organ with integrity of design were all the rest of the instrument to be taken away, then it is reasonable to regard it as a separate organ. I don't think the typical English Swell, Choir or Solo division would ever fit this criteria, though some Positive divisions arguably might.* It is all probably much less clear-cut in Germany where there is more often likely to be greater equality between the various departments. Judgements about what constitutes completeness and integrity are bound to be somewhat subjective, but what's new?

 

* Edit: Better examples would be nave divisions such as those at Exeter and Romsey Abbey, which are certainly sufficient in themselves (however much one might want not to be with out the rest of the instrument too).

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I believe in terms of numbers of stops and pipes Passau the largest. It is usually counted as a single organ, but in reality it is several instruments, all controlled from one console. I think there are a few German organs that are like this. I may be getting confused with somewhere else, but I think Mainz Cathedral has a two-manual console, a couple of three-manual consoles and a six-manual one to control the lot. Definitely has a six-decker, anyway - there are pics on the net. But the number of manuals is not really a very reliable indicator of size. I've seen one or two four-deckers that were actually smaller than some three-deckers.

 

The Mainzer Dom is a huge romanesque building with two choirs, west and east. The organ is distributed in various places at each end, hundred of feet apart and with little of it immediately visible to the casual visitor. A couple of divisions, for example, are sited behind the choir stalls beyond the high altar at the west (sic) end.

 

Much of the the instrument, including the 6-manual Generalspieltisch, dates from the 1960s and is by Kemper of Lübeck, a builder not renowned for instruments of distinction. German organists sometimes use a wordplay on Kemper and Klempner (= plumber) in referring to organs by this firm.

 

The sound of the organ when I heard it last July was pretty diffuse and incoherent. I see there are now plans for an organ on the side wall of the nave, where it will fill a pretty obvious gap and presumably make congregational accompaniment much more satisfactory, as well as improving the enjoyment of recitals etc.

 

JS

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
I just wonder what defines an organ as a collection of organs played from one console or one large organ?

 

I think it must be an organ which is complete in itself and then joined to a console that controls similar instruments in different parts of the same building. I remember Freiburg im Breisgau Cathedral being the contender for the most instruments connected to one (highly illuminated) console. One in the Tower, a delicious Marcussen being a swallow's nest in the Nave, a Rieger in the North Transept and another in the Choir. However, I think the Choir organ has now gone - but I stand corrected (as usual) of course. The opportunity in playing them together is still memorable but of dubious artistic gimicky worth. I did enjoy making tidal-wave music though (tongue-in-cheek) as I made a sonic wave break by starting in the West Tower and careering down the Cathedral eastwards coupling all the tuttis one after the other. Fun - but hardly musical. Was a concert with a difference though.

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

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... a Rieger in the North Transept and another in the Choir. However, I think the Choir organ has now gone - but I stand corrected (as usual) of course.

That's a tricky one. It has gone, and yet hasn't. Joseph von Glatter-Götz of Rieger had put it on the north loft in the westernmost bay of the chancel. From there, it spoke freely, an was visible to the congregation in all its elegance and obvious relationship to the case of the main organ in the crossing. This ensemble was a strike of genius on Jakob Schmidt's part, then architect and technical designer at Rieger, later head of Goll of Lucerne, along with Beat Grenacher, who is a brilliant voicer.

 

The original position of the chancel organ was deemed impossible by the Denkmalschutz, as two pinnacles in the gothic railing had been moved to either side to allow for the case. This had to be corrected. So, the organ was moved into a new, set back, free-standing case in the opposite arch. The pipework was retained, except for the new front pipes; one rank was renamed or exchanged for another: instead of the former Choir Gemshorn 8', standing in front of the shutters, there is now a Salicional inside the new box. The architecture, unfortunately, is underwhelming, and has nothing to do with the spectacular Rieger case.

 

I'm a regular for the summer concert series there, and can say that the main organ, after a general overhaul by Caspar Glatter-Götz and tonal work by Grenacher, is a joy to listen to. The Marcussen, however, is still the most beautiful part. The organ in the tower has been replaced, just last week, by a new Metzler -- with electric action, which is, I believe, a first for them. The 1960 Späth has been sold to someplace in eastern Europe.

 

Due to the architecture and acoustics of the building, having at least one complete organ in the nave is essential. That's the Marcussen, hanging flat on the northern wall with its 21 stops, but providing the bulk of the sound for the congregation. Its 16' pedal open (extending, for lack of space, into the 8') is generously scaled, and for decades filled the role of a secret 32-foot flue quite convincingly. In the 2000 overhaul, a real 32' Bourdon was added. At first lying on the floor of the tower loft, it now stands upright behind the new Metzler.

 

A full description, in German, can be found here.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Oh yes -- concerning Freiburg: I forgot about the new Tuba. It came from the shop of, and afaik will be voiced by, our kind host. I'm quite keen to hear it.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

 

Good heavens! This is some transformation since the time I played. But I still maintain that the Marcussen is perhaps the finest contemporary organ they have made. The 16ft Principal of the pedal being amazing; the whole, totally glorious. Getting up there takes as long as the 1st half of a concert (almost). The numbers attending a concert beggar belief. Somebody had to part those sitting on the floor to allow me to reach the mega illuminated console at the head of the Nave for the 2nd half. I dream of past times.....

N

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Oh yes -- concerning Freiburg: I forgot about the new Tuba. It came from the shop of, and afaik will be voiced by, our kind host. I'm quite keen to hear it.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

Which seems to imply that it hasnn't been voiced yet? Michael Blighton voiced ours in the shop, and it has been hailed by all and sundry as a spectacular success -even by John Scott, who thought the idea of a tuba in a Metzler "a bit of an oxymoron".

 

B

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Which seems to imply that it hasnn't been voiced yet? Michael Blighton voiced ours in the shop, and it has been hailed by all and sundry as a spectacular success -even by John Scott, who thought the idea of a tuba in a Metzler "a bit of an oxymoron".

 

B

Well then, I guess the matter is being handled as it was up in the North-East, and the pipes came fully voiced. I just do not know if any on-site finishing is planned.

 

About the oxymoron -- yes it is, as is magnets inside a Metzler windchest.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Good heavens! This is some transformation since the time I played. But I still maintain that the Marcussen is perhaps the finest contemporary organ they have made. The 16ft Principal of the pedal being amazing; the whole, totally glorious. Getting up there takes as long as the 1st half of a concert (almost). The numbers attending a concert beggar belief. Somebody had to part those sitting on the floor to allow me to reach the mega illuminated console at the head of the Nave for the 2nd half. I dream of past times.....

Hello,

 

my first post :lol:

In 1988 Nigel Allcoat played at Freiburg Münster. I was one of those sitting on the floor and listening to the player. The Improvisation was over Regina coeli and Salve Regina. A really nice reminiscence.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

PS: My native language is german, so please excuse the errors.

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Hello,

 

my first post :rolleyes:

In 1988 Nigel Allcoat played at Freiburg Münster. I was one of those sitting on the floor and listening to the player. The Improvisation was over Regina coeli and Salve Regina. A really nice reminiscence.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

PS: My native language is german, so please excuse the errors.

Dein English ist sehr gut, Tiratutti. Kein probleme!

 

Mein erste sprach ist English. Entschuldigen Sie mich wo mein Deutsh ist nicht zu gut, bitte! B)

 

Dave

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  • 2 weeks later...
Oh yes -- concerning Freiburg: I forgot about the new Tuba. It came from the shop of, and afaik will be voiced by, our kind host. I'm quite keen to hear it.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

 

Too bad 'our host' may only deliver tuba's to the continent however good they are; why not let him build an entire instrument?

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