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Interesting Organ Project In Poland


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Hi all,


In a post I wrote a couple of days ago while in Wroclaw, Poland I said I would post news of an interesting organ project in the city. Here we go. The church in question is St. Elizabeth's, Wroclaw.


Let me start with this quotation from a display board, located in the church, that gave the history of the church's Engler organ in almost perfect English:


- - - - - - - -


".....Unfortunately the temple suffered a major tragedy on 9 June 1979. There broke out such a fire that in the short period of time the whole western part of the building was in flames. Vratislavians [people from Wroclaw - DH] having left their duties came running to the place of the catastrophe and could not believe that the glory of Silesia was perishing. They watched how, in spite of the enormous effort of the rescue teams and accidental people securing whatever was possible, the fire was destroying the symbol of the power of Vratislavian bourgeoisie. Around there were heard screams and fire brigade's sirens; breaking windows gave terrific sound. One could hear fire hisses, explosions, crumbling roofing tiles and bricks.


Some people heard something more. At one point all the pipes played together. It was the last chord of Engler's organ - chord of dispair and sadness. After a while, there were left only charred angels and a handful of grey tin."


- - - - - - - -


Thus is described the destruction by fire of the organ that Michael Engler built for the church of St. Elizabeth, Wroclaw in 1752-1761 which replaced an earlier ogan of 1657. The church's organ history first mentions an organ in, as far as I can establish, 1497 with repairs in 1514, 1535, 1546, 1603, 1617 and 1619. The 1657 organ, which was built by Christianus Crelius, had 3 manuals, Pedals, 35 stops and 1615 pipes and the specification of this can be summarised, without giving a full stop list, as:


Hauptmanual: 16, 8, 8, 8, 8, 4, 3, 1½, 1, 5rks, 2rks

Mittel-Clavier: 4, 2, 1½, 1, 1rk // 8

Unter-Clavier: 8, 8, 4, 4, 4, 2, 1½, 1

Pedal: 32, 16, 16, 16, 8, 8, 4, ??*, 3rks // 8


[Note: the ?? represents a stop for which no length is given in the specification. Stops given after the // are reeds while those given before the // are flues]


This organ was played for the last time on 9th August 1752 (by the church organist Georg Siegemund Gebel) before Engler installed his instrument. Engler's organ of 1752-1761 was larger in size. It had 3 manuals, Pedals, 56 stops and 3077 pipes. A project is now underway to reconstruct the organ with a specification of the baroque period in a richly decorated case and this organ is hoped to be the crowning glory of the restoration of the church after the 1979 fire.


I have the book about the organs and the project. According to it, Engler's specification of 1751-1761 was this:


HM: Principal 16, Burdun Flaute 16, Salicet 16, Rhor Flute 8, Octave 8, Salicet 8, Viola da Gamba 8, Doppel Quinte 6, Octave 4, Nasat 3, Super Octav 2, Sesquialtera IIrks, Mixtur VIIIrks, Trompette 16, Trompette 8, Waldhorn 4


OC: Hohl Flute 16, Principal 8, Gemshorn 8, Unda Maris 8, Vox Humana (Rhorwerk) 8, Spitzflute 4, Salicet 4, Octava 4, Quinte 3, Super Octava 2, Sedecima 1, Zimbel Vrks, Hautbois 8, Theorbe 4


RP: Rhor Flute 16, Principal 8, Fauttrav 8, Quintadenna 8, Quintadenna 4, Octava 4, Flauto amabile 4, Nachthorn 2, Tertian 2, Chalumeau 8, Scharff IVrks


PD: Major Baß 32, Salicet 32, Principal 16, Dulcian 16, Violon 16, Gemshorn 16, Principal 8, Flaute 8, Gemshorn quintt 6, Clarinet 4, Mixtur Xrks, Posaune 32, Posaune 16, Trompa 8, Schallmey 4


HM: Hauptmanual, OC: Ober-Clavier, RP: Ruckpositiv, PD: Pedal


Quite an instrument!! The display baord said that the intention is to reconstruct the instrument. However neither the book about the organ history (which is half in Geman and half in Polish) nor the display board in English makes it clear if the intention is to reconstruct the organ to Engler's specification or not.


Having said that, an illustration on page 113 of the book shows a planned design for the case that will house the new organ. This is, as far as I can tell, a full replica of Engler's case. I think it is good to assume that the specification is also intended to be the same as Engler's.The display baords in the church give a photo and I took a photo of the photo. The grandness of the case seems to have matched the grandness of the specification:




Here is a photo of the gallery today. You may be able to make out some wood built into the wall on both sides of the gallery which presumable mark out where the organ and its separate gallery were once located. The older pictures in the book show a gallery below the organ gallery.




I will finish with another quote from the display board and it is this:


"The climax of the first period of the [Fundacji Opus Organi] Foundation's activity is the publication of the proceedings after the scientific conference devoted to the rebuilding of the organ of the church of St. Elizabeth. It contains directions for carrying out the project. At the moment the Foundation focuses on raising funds for this expensive instrument. Entering into partnership with sponsors and the local government is the first priority. However, the whole action would be pointless if the people of Wroclaw and tourists did not participate in this project. Each zloty is important, therefore we express our deep gratuitude towards all the people who trust us generously making contributions and donations towards the organ rebuilding."


I put in my 10 zloty to get the book. I hope organ lovers here on this board, and elsewhere, will contribute if they get the chance. The book is on sale in the church sacristy.


I hope this post, and the pictures in it, have been of interest. If it hasn't then I offer my apologies.



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Hi Vox,


Glad you found it interesting. I will be keeping my ears open for any news on the dedication of this replica instrument and will endeavour to go to Wroclaw for the concert. Shouldn't be too difficult because, usefuly, my brother lives in the city not very far from that church!


The book states that Engler (b. Wroclaw 1688, d. Wroclaw 1761) built two other instruments in the city:


1721 - 1722: St. Hieronymi

1722 - 1724: St. Salvator (church demolished at end of 19th Century. Case was in a local museum until 1945)


I guess they will try and make the pipes to Engler specifications and, unless St. Hieronymi organ has survived WW2 they need only look to Olomouc (Czech Republic) for details on that. However the specification in the book says, for most stops, what the pipes for each stop were made from. How useful it is to have that documentation still in existance!



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