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Which Organ Would You Most Want To Marry?

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Wonderful though The Bavo is,  your professional (Dutch) organists would probably not themselves recommend it as either an authentic or a typical sound...

 

You would do better with St.Michael's Zwolle, The Martinikerk Groningen, big organs in Maastricht and Zutphen, or Jos van der Kooy's Sunday job - the Westerkerk* in Amsterdam.  Although this is not by any means all old it has the voice of truth about it!

 

*I could play that organ all day and not even want to stop for meals. 

 

Having played Zwolle and heard the Westerkerk, I should just point out that Zwolle was heavily "restored" in the 1960s and is not all that authentic and I'm told that the Westerkerk is largely a new instrument built in the 1980s.

 

But they are both fabulous. Westerkerk is a lovely organ to listen to and look at. Wonderful principals. Zwolle is thrilling to play.

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Having played Zwolle and heard the Westerkerk, I should just point out that Zwolle was heavily "restored" in the 1960s and is not all that authentic and I'm told that the Westerkerk is largely a new instrument built in the 1980s.

 

But they are both fabulous. Westerkerk is a lovely organ to listen to and look at. Wonderful principals. Zwolle is thrilling to play.

 

 

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

 

Mmmmmm!

 

I'm sure Colin Harvey is making the important point that the "Schnitger" at Zwolle is less than "authentic," but the use of the word "restored" tends to suggest some sort of criticism about what Flentrop did.

 

First things first however, the major work done by Flentrop was actually completed in 1955; shortly after the war, and in the white-heat of the organ-reform movement, when everyone was rushing around trying to understand baroque organs.

 

Hindsight is wonderful, but at the time, Zwolle must have been something of a daunting task, and the end-result something of a guesstimate, and this is the reason why.

 

1719-1721: Arp Schnitger started work on the organ and died.

His sons Johann Georg and Frans Caspar completed the organ.

 

1751: A.A. Hinsz does some repairs and replaces the pedal keyboard.

 

1787: Repairs by Frans Caspar Schnitger jr. and Heinrich Hermann Freytag.

 

1791: Repairs by A. van Gruisen

 

1837: Petrus van Oekelen changes the disposition. Hoofdwerk: mixtuur -> mixtuur IV, cimbel -> nachthoorn, quintadeen 16' -> Bourdon 16'. Rugpositief: quintfluit 2 2/3' -> holpijp 8', cimbel -> mixtuur III, scherp -> fluit 2'. Onderpositief: prestantquint 5 2/3' ->viola di gamba, tertiaan ->carillon III, scherp IV -> fluit travers 8'. Pedaal: gedekte subbas 16'-> open subbas 16', roerquint 10 2/3' -> wijd gedekt 8', ruispijp -> nachthoorn 4'.

 

1853: J.C. Scheuer replaces the vox humana of the hoofdwerk by the trompet 4' of the borstwerk.

 

1867: J. van Loo replaces the wijdgedekt 8'of the pedal with a quint 10 2/3'. Changes in several reeds.

 

1882: Petrus van Oekelen replaces the frontpipes of the prestant 16'of the pedal. He adds a cornet to the hoofdwerk and changes the mixtuur. Rugpositief: sexquialter is changed in a violoncel and changes to the mixtuur. Borstwerk: sexquialter -> salicionaal 4'. Pedaal: cornet 2'-> trombone 8', mixtuur -> violon 8'. The pitch is lowered a half tone. Many changes to the reeds.

 

1926: Van Dam adds a Vox humana to to the rugpositief and to the onderpositief a aeoline 8'. Rugpositief in a swellcase.

 

1936: Electric pedal-mechanics

 

1955: Restoration by Flentrop. The organ is reconstructed to the situation in 1721. The pipework is restored and later additions has been reused. Restorations of the mechanics and the console. Pitch half a tone higher. Windchests restored.

 

1971: Repairs by Flentrop.

 

1985-1989: Flentrop repairs windchests and does some reintonation. Restoration of four bellows.

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

 

Mmmmmm!

 

I'm sure Colin Harvey is making the important point that the "Schnitger" at Zwolle is less than "authentic," but the use of the word "restored" tends to suggest some sort of criticism about what Flentrop did.

 

First things first however, the major work done by Flentrop was actually completed in 1955; shortly after the war, and in the white-heat of the organ-reform movement, when everyone was rushing around trying to understand baroque organs.

 

Hindsight is wonderful, but at the time, Zwolle must have been something of a daunting task, and the end-result something of a guesstimate, and this is the reason why.

 

1719-1721: Arp Schnitger started work on the organ and died.

His sons Johann Georg and Frans Caspar completed the organ.

 

1751: A.A. Hinsz does some repairs and replaces the pedal keyboard.

 

1787: Repairs by Frans Caspar Schnitger jr. and Heinrich Hermann Freytag.

 

1791: Repairs by A. van Gruisen

 

1837: Petrus van Oekelen changes the disposition. Hoofdwerk: mixtuur -> mixtuur IV, cimbel -> nachthoorn, quintadeen 16' -> Bourdon 16'. Rugpositief: quintfluit 2 2/3' -> holpijp 8', cimbel -> mixtuur III, scherp -> fluit 2'. Onderpositief: prestantquint 5 2/3' ->viola di gamba, tertiaan ->carillon III, scherp IV -> fluit travers 8'. Pedaal: gedekte subbas 16'-> open subbas 16', roerquint 10 2/3' -> wijd gedekt 8', ruispijp -> nachthoorn 4'.

 

1853: J.C. Scheuer replaces the vox humana of the hoofdwerk by the trompet 4' of the borstwerk.

 

1867: J. van Loo replaces the wijdgedekt 8'of the pedal with a quint 10 2/3'. Changes in several reeds.

 

1882: Petrus van Oekelen replaces the frontpipes of the prestant 16'of the pedal. He adds a cornet to the hoofdwerk and changes the mixtuur. Rugpositief: sexquialter is changed in a violoncel and changes to the mixtuur. Borstwerk: sexquialter -> salicionaal 4'. Pedaal: cornet 2'-> trombone 8', mixtuur -> violon 8'. The pitch is lowered a half tone. Many changes to the reeds.

 

1926: Van Dam adds a Vox humana to to the rugpositief and to the onderpositief a aeoline 8'. Rugpositief in a swellcase.

 

1936: Electric pedal-mechanics

 

1955: Restoration by Flentrop. The organ is reconstructed to the situation in 1721. The pipework is restored and later additions has been reused. Restorations of the mechanics and the console. Pitch half a tone higher. Windchests restored.

 

1971: Repairs by Flentrop.

 

1985-1989: Flentrop repairs windchests and does some reintonation. Restoration of four bellows.

 

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

 

I'm sorry, I pressed the wrong button....now I can finish what I began!

 

As you will see from the foregoing, there really wasn't the slightest chance that Flentrop could possibly restore the organ to some sort of "authentic" state, but what they did was to try and take it back to an estimate of what the organ may have sounded like back in 1721. Certainly, the original disposition was restored, but that implies quite a lot of new replacement pipework

 

Even the pitch was altered from the original, and Flentrop reversed that, so there was little chance that it could ever sound original. We also have to question whether the organ is Arp Schnitger or F C Schnitger, whether it is heavily van Oackelen-ised to a point of no return, or whether it is Flentrop-ised based purely on what they knew at the time.

 

To be fair, the 19th century was not TOO unkind to Netherlands organs, unlike the typical sort of work done to old organs in the UK. Van Oeckelen was a fine builder who knew how to make a fine principal-chorus, and when it came to re-builds or enlargements, they and others, would probably not have made too many changes if the sound was good.....and it would have been at Zwolle.

 

I suspect that, of all the more important instruments in the Netherlands, THIS organ must have been a major headache.

 

As Colin suggests, it IS a wonderful organ, but like the Bavo organ, it possibly sounds quite a bit different now to what it did originally....if only we could tell.

 

The following makes interesting reading about the pipework at Zwolle:-

 

Hoofdwerk: II, (C - c3) chest Schnitger, action and keyboard Flentrop

 

1. Praestant 16' Schnitger, C-F# from Quintadena 16'

from G in prospect

2. Quintadena 16' Schnitger - Flentrop

3. Octaav 8' Schnitger

4. Roerfluit 8' Schnitger

5. Octaav 4' Schnitger

6. Speelfluit 4' Schnitger

7. Nasaat 3' Schnitger, conical

8. Superoctaav 2' Schnitger

9. Ruyschpijp II Schnitger

10. Mixtuur VI van Oeckelen - Flentrop

11. Cimbel III Flentrop

12. Trompet 16' Flentrop - van Oeckelen

13. Trompet 8' Flentrop - van Oeckelen

14. Vox humana 8' Flentrop - van Oeckelen

 

Rugwerk: I (C - c3) chest Schnitger, action and keyboard Flentrop

 

1. Praestant 8' Schnitger, from C in prospect

2. Quintadena 8' Schnitger

3. Roerfluit 8' Schnitger

4. Octaav 4' Schnitger

5. Fluit 4' Schnitger

6. Quintfluit 3' Flentrop

7. Superoctaav 2' Schnitger

8. Sesquialtera II Flentrop

9. Scherp IV Flentrop

10. Cimbel III Flentrop

11. Fagot 16' Flentrop

12. Schalmei 8' Flentrop

 

Bovenpositief: III (C - c3) chest Schnitger, action and keyboard Flentrop

 

1. Praestant 8' Schnitger, in prospect

2. Holpijp 8' Schnitger

3. Viola 8' van Oeckelen

4. Quinta 6' Flentrop

5. Octaav 4' Schnitger

6. Holfluit 4' Schnitger

7. Quinta 3' Schnitger

8. Superoctaav 2' Flentrop

9. Woudfluit 2' Schnitger

10. Sifflet 1 1/2' Schnitger, converted from Flageolet 1'

11. Tertiaan II Flentrop

12. Scherp V Flentrop

13. Viool da Gamba 8' Flentrop, modeled on F.C. Schnitger stop

in Alkmaar

14. Trompet 4' Flentrop

 

Borstwerk: IV (C - c3) chest Schnitger, action and keyboard Flentrop

 

1. Fluitgedekt 8' Schnitger

2. Praestant 4' Schnitger

3. Roerfluit 4' Schnitger

4. Spitsfluit 3' Schnitger

5. Superoctaav 2' Schnitger

6. Gemshoorn 2' Schnitger

7. Quintanus 1 1/2' Schnitger

8. Nachthoorn 1' van Oeckelen - Schnitger

9. Sexquialtera II Flentrop

10. Mixtuur III-IV Schnitger

11. Dulciaan 8' Schnitger - Flentrop

12. Regaal 8' Schnitger - Flentrop

 

Pedaal: (C - d1) chest Schnitger, action and keyboard Flentrop

 

1. Praestant 16' Schnitger, from C in prospect

2. Subbas 16' van Oeckelen, lead, stopped

3. Octaav 8' Schnitger

4. Holpijp 8' van Oeckelen, lead, stopped

5. Superoctaav 4' Schnitger

6. Vlakfluit 2' Flentrop

7. Mixtuur VIII Flentrop

8. Fagot 32' Flentrop, funnel-shaped resonators, half length

9. Bazuin 16' Flentrop, resonator material from van Oeckelen

10. Trompet 8' Flentrop, resonator material from van Oeckelen

11. Trompet 4' Flentrop, resonator material from van Oeckelen

12. Cornet 2' Flentrop, resonator material from van Oeckelen

 

Couplers:

I - II IV - II

III - II IV - III

HW - P Flentrop

 

Of one thing I am sure, this "restoration" would have been done with a sense of great integrity by Flentrop, and after a great deal of careful consideration by all concerned. They do tend to take the work of conservation very seriously in the Netherlands.

 

Nuff said, I think!!

 

MM

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I'm sure Colin Harvey is making the important point that the "Schnitger" at Zwolle is less than "authentic," but the use of the word "restored" tends to suggest some sort of criticism about what Flentrop did.

 

Hi MM.

 

Thanks for the history of this organ, which shows exactly the authenticity and says much better what I was trying to say. Perhaps the haste in which I usually write on this board accounts for some misunderstanding of my thoughts sometimes. Zwolle was a wonderful experience and I admire what Flentrop did.

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