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Rostock St. Marien (1770-1938)


kropf
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Dear board members!

 

After long work, inspired by the efforts made by other members in moving masses of photographs to web servers, I want to announce the update of www.marien-musik.de (Take the flash intro, it is nice and was programmed by one of my my predecessor's sons...). Click on to the English versions and "Organs" or directly the "Kolloquium" icon. Yes, in November we will have some experts discussing the future of this remarkable instrument, which has major faults, too. A somewhat popular compact disc was published to raise funds for the experts meeting, and it worked as a first sound for the audio file section. If time permits, I will add the typical recordings of stop families etc.

 

The gallery section allows a quite complete virtual tour of the instrument. There are still details to be photographed and I will announce updates.

I like to hear opinions about this organ (and am looking forward to see Pierre beeing an lively contributor).

Beeing a slider soundboard instrument with electropneumatic action and a summit of several historic layers, it reminds me to larger English organs. People from the islands would merely deny such a character, as our host JPM expressed during a brief visit last year. Definitely not breaking records of sound pressure, it is quite a flexible instrument, making fun when you play Weckmann and Buxtehude, of course German romantics and still musical at French symphonics, though lacking power in the descant then. One can accompany choirs with Great reeds, I even did a OUP carol with my wife singing the descant over a GT reed tenor cantus. (Try this on a new Rieger!)

But winding is weak, this generated a very moderated style of voicing, and people often say after a quasi-tutti: "Was that all?" I found out that this is not so much a matter of physical volume, but of a "vale" in the frequency range - the soprano range is somewhat weak against tenor and bass range, and the existent high mixtures do not really shimmer down to the nave.

 

Anyway, enjoy surfing that site (everything is bilingual, at least I tried to make it sound English...).

 

Greetings

Karl-Bernhardin Kropf

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Guest Geoff McMahon

As you will have noticed from Karl-Bernhardin's post, I have seen and heard this organ. His assessment of it's "Englishness" in its development and history is, I believe, accurate. It displays many of the characteristics of a much rebuilt and modified English cathedral organ where one can see elements of varying and (dare one say) disparate styles sitting side by side, trying to be positive contributors to one great chorus. It gives the feeling I have so often experienced of a scheme which, whilst containing worthy material, has lost its way. It is a wholly fascinating conundrum. Whilst acknowledging its shortcomings as a whole, one cannot help but be intrigued by its wealth of tonalities and potential. My impression is that this potential, which is undoubtedly there, can only be realised with some pretty radical action; action which would almost certainly raise the hackles of the historically minded organ lover or organ builder. The dilemma is one of balance between respect of historic material and realisation of (equally historic) potential. Do you preserve the limitations the status quo imposes on the material to hand by preserving historic material untouched and unchanged, or do you realise the potential of that same material by making changes which allow that material to blossom and stand alongside some new material which could support and expand what that material could do?

 

Those are fine words and easy to type out on a computer. The realisation is far more complex and putting it into any sort of concrete model for consideration is more difficult yet, let alone actually carrying it out. Karl-Bernhardin Has been bold in inviting us to a seminar to discuss the future of the organ. Not many (if any) organists I know in a comparable position have been so brave in seeking such open and possibly contradictory opinion. It will undoubtedly be of great interest, but could also be the can of worms to end all cans of worms.

 

If any of you were to get the opportunity to visit Rostock, I can highly recommend it. The city itself, pretty well decimated by allied bombing during the war, compounded by life under the communist rule of the GDR after the war, has managed a quite remarkable transformation. The city fathers have managed a transition to its present form with foresight and a bravado which is pretty breathtaking, managing to preserve the old and create the new side by side with a synergy seldom achieved. One of the jewels is undoubtedly the Marienkirche itself. As Karl-Bernhardin says, it too displays elements from so many important eras of its history. For those of you interested in literature, there is some connection to the family of Thomas Mann I believe (he of Buddenbrooks fame). Nearby is the rolling countryside of Mecklenburg, like the best parts of Suffolk on a grand scale (Suffolk is *not* flat as any of you who might have cycled around Suffolk will testify).

 

I think most of you will know Karl-Bernhardin Kropf from his untiring efforts to preserve the village of Neuenfelde near Hamburg against the extension of the nearby Airbus facilities. The chances are pretty good that he will make this issue one of genuine interest for many of us.

 

JPM

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This is fantastic. What a wonderful website. Our colleague Mr Kropf is a true champion of the organ culture, through his tireless work in Neuenfeld, and now is Rostock, and his wonderful musicianship. I will never forget his kindness when I visited the former, showing me every corner of the organ and allowing me to play for some hours. And I still perform his 'Echo Fantasia' often (this year in the UK and in France). Thank you sir!

 

"Beeing a slider soundboard instrument with electropneumatic action and a summit of several historic layers, it reminds me to larger English organs. "

 

Yes absolutely. And I would rejoice were a prestigious English Cathedral to tackle their next rebuild by calling an international symposium and making such a website (and even inviting comments from us!). This is the way forward.

 

The organ seems fascinating, and my instinct would be to re-construct the situation of 1938, (re-instating the free reeds especially). But I'm wondering if I should infer from Karl-Bernhardin's comments that the success of the Sauer project was in some way compromised by circumstances? Why was the winding so weak? Is the danger of losing something unique (even if a curate's egg) not too great to risk trying to add yet another layer to such a heady mix?

 

I am fascinated and am sorry that my travels this year won't include Rostock.

 

Looking forward to this thread developing and to Karl-Bernhardin telling more of the story.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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I copied the sound files on CDs, so I could listen to them in the living-room

(NAD amplifier, B&W loudspeakers, Koss electrostatic Helmet), and noted

just two things:

 

1)- The mixture work seems to be exceptionally well balanced.

 

2)- The organ seems to be "throttled", I mean, it seems "the wind does not follow".

 

Maybe this is what Mr Mander says while writing "needs to be brought to its potential".

I know we may be confident he will advocate for the preservation of all that

historical "Substanz".

 

Pierre

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Dear friends, let me first thank for the warm welcome of the website update.

And thanks to our host for his inspired comments, beeing able to serve as an opening to ANY project which talks about an organ which is not definitely clear to be abandoned.

Even in Neuenfelde it was not so easy to decide, what to do. My successor there has some closer relation to the circle around Harald Vogel than I had. A small symposium already took place there, and said in general, the organ seems to be restored to the Schnitger state, if I got it right.

 

Rostock is more difficult, but with one exception: While playing Neuenfelde, you are permanently longing for a better future for the instrument, whatever one.

While playing Rostock, you can really have many joyful moments without that desire. And while every concert in Neuenfelde was a challenge of making the impossible possible, preparing concerts (uuhhh - I should not praise my preparations, but I mean just sitting there and trying sounds, or doing the daily prayer services) in Rostock is much more fun - at least because if the space. I didn't measure it by professional formulas, but sitting at the computer and editing the lates recording, I could measure 6 seconds reverberation from end of a tutti chord until zero sound. That was what I missed so much in Neuenfelde - lift your fingers and the music ends, at least with audience. And now we get to Pierre:

 

I copied the sound files on CDs, so I could listen to them in the living-room

(NAD amplifier, B&W loudspeakers, Koss electrostatic Helmet), and noted

just two things:

 

1)- The mixture work seems to be exceptionally well balanced.

 

2)- The organ seems to be "throttled", I mean, it seems "the wind does not follow".

 

Maybe this is what Mr Mander says while writing "needs to be brought to its potential".

I know we may be confident he will advocate for the preservation of all that

historical "Substanz".

 

Pierre

 

The Mixtures ARE well balanced, at least the original ones! The 5r in the GT is from 1983, intended to boost the then very weak instrument. It sticks out a little. Not recorded yet is the "Hohe Mixtur" /high mix of the Ped. My predecessor did not let clean this stop at last overhaul because of its lack of usability....as he did with Regal 4' (Pos), Nachthorn 2' (Ped) and, if I remember correctly, Sordun 8' of the Ped. I love the latter!! it gives a gentle humming to the bass line e.g. in (early) baroque chorales like Buxtehude, making it more clear without beeing noisy as a trumpet.

Guess the most important stop for congregational singing?

It's the Oboe 8' of Man. III. Beeing a gentle German Oboe, it gives brightness to the coupled chorus without standing out as much as a mixture.

Regarding the wind:

When Matthias Schuke was visiting, he opened my eyes for a very simple reason for bad winding. He asked me to play a tutti while he would observe the bellows in the chamber. He found out, that the top reservoir with its own blower collapsed completely. The two connected reservoirs below where interesting: The bottom one remained at 30%, but the one above collapsed. And there is an easy reason, check this page: http://www.marien-musik.de/img-magazin2.html

The trunks are quite wide (though not wide enough), but the "accordion" connection between the too bellows is much more tiny! So this is the weakest point of the chain - there is still some air in the lower reservoir (which has its own output, too), but it can't reach the following middle reservoir.

Schuke also pointed out, that the valves are not made of proper dimensions. Well, impressive the reservoir house is, but it is not made by ACC or another one of the great builders. It was made just by the local organ builder, not a very gifted one.

 

The pipe feet have impressive small toe holes, as the voicers of 1938 obviously discovered the weakness of the wind and had to deal with it. And many wooden flue stops have reduced mouth height over the whole range of the stop, sometimes significantly. It will be some work to find out why and when these modifications where made.

 

Back to the mixtures, and above all, the harmonics/mutations.

On the German Orgelforum they discussed the super octave couplers and the problems with neo-baroque mixtures. As shown by the audio samples, the mixtures do not make any problems while beeing super-coupled (by doubling the notes on the keyboards, as such couplers are not existent.) I got my lesson on the large Sauer/Ladegast of Leipzig St. Nikolai (before beeing converted to the "Porsche" organ) - Prelude and Fuge BWV 541: The only change between P & F: Add "Super II/I". It was perfect!

 

The pipework was MADE to be used like this (you anglican cathedral organists of course know that...), and I am shure this is the case in Rostock, too. Let the consultant and the engraver of the stop knobs call the stop whatever. The pipe workshop continued its romantic style of work and voicing. But we have to notice, that the 1938 pipes are mostly made of zinc, but do not have slots/expressions anymore (see images). But what is so fine: They do not have any chiff

yet! (And be sure that I will help them not to get any in future...)

 

So far for now, I have to interrupt now, but there will be more to tell.

Greetings

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I would not call those mixtures -and this organ- neo-baroque; rather,

a "néo-classique" organ, that is, a "Kompromissorgel" like Victor Gonzalez

in France or Walter Holtkamp Sr in the US made at the same time.

And indeed the mixtures were not the same when there were octave couplers.

It would be impossible, especially if the stops had 72 notes in order to get

those "true superoctave couplers" we often find in organs from that period.

There were somewhat less ranks, first, and the specification had to be deeper

ar C, otherwise the result was a kind of big cluster, nearly the same along

the whole compass.

Small feet-holes may not only be the result of the weak wind, as such holes

are often to be find in periods organs, even the new ones. And often, this goes with

a somewhat weak treble -the contrary than with much romantic organs where "each stop

must be able to do the solo and its own accompaniment", to the point that in big climaxes

like in Liszt's music, the right hand can sometimes be completely engulfed by the left one.

 

And this too is a complex matter. We see just that nowadays in Brussels, where the restoration

of a 1933 organ is under way.

The builder wanted to increase the height of all treble pipes, in order to be able to voice them

with a power proportionned to the basses-rather: what we today understand as "in proportion to"-.

But....If you do that, the original scales, and the scales progression, are gone.

Not something to be taken with a light heart in an historical restoration...(That one is a completely

new, original 1933 job).

Anyway, those "soft tones" had their repertoire following them. Suffice to listen how Messiaen used

the mutations and mixtures...

 

Pierre

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I just returned from the organ loft, finishing the first stage of a difficult but important work: Wanting to have the entire instrument tuned permanently, I had to do something with the seven reed stops I can not tune without somebody else at the keyboard. The remaining twelve reed stops can be tuned by myself alone, by moving magnets or lifting actuators with one and tuning with the other hand.

So today, I finished an additional wiring for the swell, allowing me to ignite the magnets from within the swell box. It is not done properly, but of course reversible and without any soldering, to prevent any influence on the present material. And - I decided to close the expressions of the major reeds (Trumpet 8', Fagott 16') as much as possible, to reduce the extreme brilliance which doesn't fit to the rest.

And I was given a nearly new reed chorus!

Playing Hohlflöte 8' with Trompete 8', optional added Fagott 16' and Progressio III-IV, I got something quite similar to a Tuba chorus! What a joy each time one takes place at the console again, after walking aroudn and up/down the organ several times (changing stops during tuning has to be done from the console...), but this time the reward was really a big one.

So this sound will get onto the "To be recorded"-list. Although I would not strive too much to make the Giesecke reeds fit into this instrument, I am looking forward to play with a much more versatile reed chorus on swell. (The 8' Hautbois there is already OK in its original state).

 

@Pierre: You are absolutely right in making the difference between neo-baroque and neo-classical, and that this one belongs to the latter category.

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  • 4 months later...

With these words, I subsummized our experts conference of last weekend in Rostock on our website:

 

The existing organ was judged as an instrument of minor value by most of the experts. The reason is the unique combination of pseudo-baroque pipework voiced in romantic style on original baroque soundboards, in an organ case with certain acoustical demands. Though the instrument’s abilities to produce a large variety of fine colours was honoured, a healthy core was missed in the general sound. A reconstruction of the situation of Marx (resp. Schmidt) 1793 has strong supporters. But some experts do consider modifications of the existing pipework as useful, too.

It was decided to recommend to try such modifications in a limited area of the instrument, and to check the result in another meeting. As a timeline, two years have been suggested. The parish will try to make this happen.

Our host, who attended the meeting and made important contributions, may add to this brief statement. Those of you, who read German, are welcome to share the report of Wolfgang Gourgé, who attended, too, and took some nice pictures.

 

These were the participants:

 

Organ builders:

OB Philipp C. Klais, Bonn

OBM Kristian Wegscheider, Dresden

OBM Christian Scheffler, Sieversdorf

OBM Matthias Schuke, Potsdam

OB Klaus-Michael Schreiber, Potsdam

OBM John Pike Mander, London

OBM Johann-Gottfried Schmidt, Rostock

 

Advisors:

Dr. Martin Kares, Karlsruhe

Prof. Dr. Hermann J. Busch, Siegen

KMD Wolfgang Leppin, Güstrow

OSV Friedrich Drese, Malchow

 

Heritage Preservation Authorities:

Beatrix Dräger, Schwerin

Uta Jahnke, Rostock

 

 

Unofficial Visitors:

Alexander Eckert, Wolfgang Gourgé, Oliver Horlitz, Hans-Dieter Karras, Andreas Voigt a. o.

 

We had a great time, though we got this weak result. By having just one lecture by Prof. Busch ("The organ music of 1938") we had quite much time to discuss. And discussion it was! Even attendants not familiar with organ stuff were very impressed.

Pierre, before you start loading the guns: The problem is the combination named above. The pipework may be OK somewhere else, the soundboards may, but together... At least that's what the experts say. I was trying to support Martin Kares (over-?)optimistic view of the potential of this instrument, when beeing modified. Well, it has another chance at the voicing modification intended now. It will be probably its last chance in this configuration. If it fails, the pipework (or most of) or the soundboards will have to leave.

 

The links to the report in the German "Orgelforum"

 

Part I: http://www.orgelforum.de/forum_entry.php?id=77238

Part II: http://www.orgelforum.de/forum_entry.php?id=77255

Part III: http://www.orgelforum.de/forum_entry.php?id=77258

 

Our organ's main page - follow the links for images, sound, history: http://www.marien-musik.de/orgeln.html

 

Greetings

Karl-Bernhardin Kropf

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Dear Karl,

 

I won't fire the guns against, among others, our host, organ builder, who did see

and hear the organ !

I am just a "paper tiger", and did not hear that one!

 

Someone cited on the german forum said "this" (neo-classical pipework)

does not go with this (romantic voicing with feet regulation etc) nor with

this (baroque soundboards from Ernst Marx, a J. Wagner pupil by the way).

 

Important stuff...And there is this difficult location (an huge Fernwerk).

 

Some ideas to be played with, fully open to discussion (and firing!):

 

-"Pseudo-Baroque" pipework voiced by post-romantic trained voicers

are quite common in that time: Victor Gonzalez, Oscar Walcker, Klais...

they all did it. I call it "néo-classique première ( first) manière".

This is a style in itself, and suits Tournemire, Messiaen, Dupré, Duruflé...

 

-An organ-builder said (again, read on the german forum): "this pipework would work

better on Taschenladen" (membrane chests with grooves for stops, not by notes),

and I think this is quite interesting an advice.

 

-If we lived in an ideal world, why not imagine to recuperate the Marx chests and

-if not transformed beyond the imaginable- pipework to reconstitute a medium-size

baroque organ, and rebuild a coherent, neo-classical instrument (with Taschenladen

or another kind of sliderless chest, with electro-pneumatic action) ? One of the two would

go in another place in the church, while the other might better "breathe" in the former

place if enlightened a bit (less stops, but better disposed).

 

Now I really need to buy that ticket to the Falklands !

 

Pierre

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-If we lived in an ideal world, why not imagine to recuperate the Marx chests and

-if not transformed beyond the imaginable- pipework to reconstitute a medium-size

baroque organ, and rebuild a coherent, neo-classical instrument (with Taschenladen

or another kind of sliderless chest, with electro-pneumatic action) ? One of the two would

go in another place in the church, while the other might better "breathe" in the former

place if enlightened a bit (less stops, but better disposed).

 

Now I really need to buy that ticket to the Falklands !

 

Pierre

 

After the conference is before the conference! (That's what I thougth and one organ builder wrote two days ago)

Several people are beeing kept thinking about Rostock, and me the most. So it looks like we are going to here more in future about that instrument. People left Rostock with "It can not stay the way it is" in mind. And they have decided to meet again, as I told you before.

There are already ideas in the pipeline - and, Pierre, what you wrote above, it is really an option. As funding is not the question of the moment, fantasy is still free. Stay tuned (and return the Falkland ticket), as they would say at the radio...

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Fine, then !

 

It would be the option which would avoid scraping any historic material,

all the "Substanz" would be valorised; the Marx chests and pipework,

rare treasures,one side, and the neo-classic Sauer organ, on another side.

Such a solution would satisfy both the historian and the musician.

 

Pierre

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