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St. Elizabeth, Wroclaw (PL) :: Update


DaveHarries
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Greetings all,

Some members here may recall my posts from 2009 and 2018 about the efforts to build a historical replica of the organ of St. Elizabeth, Wroclaw (Poland) that was built by Michael Engler (1752-1761), was worked on by other builders (1848, 1867, 1879, 1907 & 1939) and escaped destruction during WW2 (1939-1945) only to be lost in a fire that gutted the church on 09-Jun-1976. A photo of 10th June 1976 shows how complete the destruction of the organ was: https://polska-org.pl/9069037,foto.html?idEntity=546812

It is good to be able to report that the work on the organ is now well underway. The organ is being made by a three-way consortium:

- Orgues Thomas (Stevelot, BE): Windchests
- Organowe Zych (Wolomin, PL): case and supporting structure.
- Orgelbau Klais (Bonn, DE): Action, console, wind system, pipework and intonation (voicing?)

The website of Zych is live but makes no mention of the project; the website of Thomas mentions it but with no links to any information. On the other hand the website of Klais gives a history of the organs of St. Elizabeth and suggests that the Engler-origin organs of Grüssau and Olomuc are serving as models (presumably for things like pipework metal alloys) for the Wroclaw organ.

The page on the Klais website can be found at https://klais.de/m.php?sid=551 and contains historical pictures of the Wroclaw organ as well as pictures of the 1724 Engler of St. Nicholas, Brieg (Brzeg), Poland which was sadly lost in 1945. You can also on that link find impressions of how the organ in Wroclaw is planned to look when finished. It seems that the comparison with the organ of 1752 will be very good indeed.

I am sure I read very recently (although I forget where) that inauguration is planned for sometime in Autumn 2021: what a pity I am unlikely to be there. I hope videos will appear online in due course: I think it will be splendid.

Hope this is of interest.
Dave

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  • 9 months later...

Well the work on this was finished in mid-November 2021. A Facebook page informs readers that the resulting instrument of 3 manuals, pedals and 54 speaking stops has the original specification as Engler left it when he finished the instrument in 1761 which is as follows:

Manual I - Ruckpositiv (10 stops):
Principal 8ft, Flute Amabile 8ft, Flaute Allemande 8ft, Quintadena 8ft, Octave 4ft, Quint 3ft, Super Octave 2ft, Mixture 4rks, Cimbel 3rks, Hautbois 8ft

Manual II - Hauptwerk (16 stops):
Violon 16ft, Salicet 16ft, Bordun 16ft, Quintadena 16ft, Principal 8ft, Flaute Major 8ft, Gemshorn 8ft, Salicet 8ft, Vox Humana 8ft, Octave 4ft, Nachthorn 4ft, Quint 3ft, Super Octave 2ft, Mixture VI, Cimbel 3rks, Trombet 8ft

Manual III - Oberwerk (14 stops):
Principal 8ft, Rhorflute 8ft, Trinuna 8ft (*), Unda Maris 9ft, Octave 4ft, Spitzflute 4ft, Minor Flute 4ft, Quint 1 1/3ft, Sedecima 1ft, Sesquialtera 2rks, Mixture 4rks, Chalumeau 8ft

Pedal (14 stops):
Major Bass 32ft, Principal 16ft, Violon-Bass 16ft, Salicet 16ft, QUintadena 16ft, Octave 8ft, Flute 8ft, Gemshorn Quint 6ft, Super Octave 4ft, Mixture 5rks, Posaune 32ft, Posaune 16ft, Trombet 8ft

There are also a Glockenspiel, Bells and a drum pedal. The coupling mechanism is by the old method of bringing the manuals in to line so that the mechanisms interlink.

There are numerous pictures online and some YouTube footage as well (search YouTube for "Organy Englera" but without the speech marks). I remember visiting the church about 10 years ago and seeing the empty space at the back of the nave: anybody who visits there now will find it much beautified with the space taken by an instrument that very much goes with the interior of the building. THe destruction of the original Engler by fire (09th June 1976) was referred to by some as the loss of the glory of Silesia: the glory speaks once again.

Dave

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A very Interesting project, and glad to hear of its successful completion.

The original specification looks very similar in size and stop nomenclature to Engler’s organ at Krzeszow (formerly Grüßau) built c.20 years earlier - a very fine instrument, familiar to some users of a certain software program. The differences between organs such as these and (for example) the Trost at Waltershausen, compared with those of Schnitger and G. Silbermann further north and west, are remarkable, and they deserve to be better-Known here.

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13 hours ago, DHM said:

A very Interesting project, and glad to hear of its successful completion.

l am also glad that the project has been successfully done. For comparison:

1939: Engler's main case but minus the Positiv cases although it is clear where they were located which was either side of the shield on the balcony.
https://bi.im-g.pl/im/72/23/16/z23213938V,Organy-Michaela-Englera-w-kosciele-pw--sw--Elzbiet.jpg

1976: After the fire of 9th June of which the cause was, I believe, never discovered. The fire also caused a considerable degree of damage to the rest of the interior of the church.
https://klais.de/_klais/bilder/fotos/Artikel/Wroclaw_Elisabeth/1976.JPG

2022: After the reconstruction: looks like a couple of finishing touches being made perhaps: shows replica main case and positiv cases.
https://wf1.xcdn.pl/files/22/01/20/673301_Fg78_DJI_0019_83.jpg

I have seen an article online, dated 2018, at which time the value of the works was put at nearly PLN20,000,000 which, at the time I write this reply, is about £3.7m. The dedication recital is to be Friday 28th January at 1800hrs UK Time and will be broadcast live through the city's website - www.wroclaw.pl - or the YouTube channel of Ars Sonora at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAfOrX_plak

I will be tuning in!

Dave

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Magnificent is surely the understatement of the century for such a glorious instrument. The previous fire was a sorry end to what should have been just as glorious but which evidently had gone a little too far with first its romanticisation then a botched attempt at returning it to its former glory (with an electric action and new ruckpositive cases many times bigger than the originals that were discarded a century earlier). Such is progress.

As for the cost, £3+ million seems pretty good value if it was budgeted for in the tradition (in Bach's day) for the wealthiest towns and churches to outdo one another by ensuring the case cost at least twice as much as the instrument inside it.

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I thought the organ sounded very fine indeed, with some lovely flutes and principals. I look forward to hearing more of it.  I assume the reed in Wachet auf was the Chalumeau. Nice stop - but I hope Bach's tenors didn't sound like that! 🙂

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Manufacture d’orgues Thomas were originally contracted as part of the collective to rebuild the Wroclaw organ, but since signing, the firm declared bankruptcy under advice. Dominique Thomas is now independent (continuing some projects with Klais as I understand). The majority of the company (including his son, Jean-Sebastien, and Thomas Deserranno as directors) have established a new company ‘Orgues de Facto’, buying back the majority of the contracts. I believe that it was they who completed the work assigned to the original company, including 14 new wind chests. They’re doing some fabulous work - historic restoration and new builds…

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I’m not sure it’s as clear cut as that. Orgues Thomas went bankrupt in November 2020, by which time the Wrocław organ was well underway. Orgues De Facto operates from the same workshop, and with some of the same staff. Dominique Thomas (now working as a freelance voicer) was at the inauguration. 

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