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Organ History / Re: The Arp Schnitger Organ at Cappel
« Last post by JBR on April 15, 2017, 10:32:09 PM »
Thanks Ian.  Interesting information.
Organ History / The Arp Schnitger Organ at Cappel
« Last post by Ian van Deurne on April 15, 2017, 05:28:25 PM »
There has been quite a lot of misunderstanding about this organ in recent times, including here so I'm going to put the record straight.

The most common misconception is that this organ was built for this church. It was not.
It was in fact built by Arp Schnitger for the Johanniskirche in Hamburg and was his first instrument built in the city in 1680, that replaced but incorporated some of the pipework from the earlier organ built here in 1657  ( I don't know the builder ). The Johanniskirche occupied an internal space of approximately 32. 900 cubic meters. The volume of the church at Cappel is only approx 1. 800 cubic meters. In other words, the church is far too small for the organ!

The first mention of an organ at Cappel, a small village in the fen region of Lower Saxony, east of the river Weser, dates from 1582 but nothing is known concerning the size, disposition or the builder. Information from later periods is equally as scant, since most official documents concerning Cappel have perished by fire.
       In 1800, the organ builder Georg Wilhelmy of Stade received a commission to build a new organ for Cappel but again, no detailed information about this organ has survived.  It was inaugurated on 4th March 1801.  On 18th December 1810, this organ, together with all the valuable church furnishings was destroyed in a fire.  Once the church had been repaired, the search for a suitable replacement organ began.  In 1816 a favourable opportunity presented itself in Hamburg.  During Napoleon's French occupation  ( 1806 - 14 ), the monastic Johanniskirche had been turned into a depot and stables.  The organ was dismounted in 1813 by the organ builder, Joachim Willhelm Geycke and stored in another room in the monastery.  The church itself and adjoining buildings were demolished in 1829.  As mentioned, this organ had been built by Arp Schnitger in 1680 containing 30 speaking registers, two manuals and an independent pedal.  In a letter written by the organ builder Johann Georg Willhelm on 12th April 1816 to the Cappel organist Herr Gehilken said that this organ, which " is still a very fine organ " was for sale.
       Negotiations between the church authorities in Hamburg and Cappel were concluded with an agreed price of 600 Talers in Louis d ' or.  The name of Arp Schnitger, however, was never mentioned in any of these transactions.  The organ duly arrived in packing cases at Cappel on 29th June 1816, and by December of that year it had been reassembled by Johann Georg Willhelm, in time for the Christmas festivities.
       During the next few decades this builder continued to maintain the organ; major repairs were not to be found necessary.  Upon his death in 1848 other organ builders from Stade cared for the instrument.  The only significant alteration during this time was carried out in 1891 by Heinrich Roever, who replaced the original six bellows with three larger diagonal ones with associated alterations to the wind system.
       In 1928, as a result in the now great interest in organs from the Baroque period, the particular importance of the organ at Cappel was recognised and the church commissioned a full examination of the instrument.  In 1932, the firm of Fuertwangler & Hammer of Hannover replaced the original action with pneumatic and the instrument was tuned at regular two - year intervals after this.  Between 1937 - 39, Paul Ott of Goettingen carried out extensive reconditioning.  In addition to mechanical repairs, all the pipework was regulated and any recognisable deviations from the original disposition were corrected.  The Pedal was again provided with its 2ft Cornet, which had been changed to a Trompete 4' when the instrument was still in Hamburg.  In the Ruckpositiv the Sifflote, which had been changed to 1ft pitch was reconstructed to the original 1.1/ 3 pitch and the correct balance of the 2 - rank Terzian, which had had its third - sounding rank converted to a higher - pitched Rauschpfeife was restored.  Unfortunately, a large proportion of the leathering of the reed shallots was removed and in consequence, the size of the orifices were altered, in some cases considerably.  The Ott firm maintained the organ until 1963.  After the renovation of the church between 1963 - 65 it was apparent that the organ was in an alarming state.  Most windchests, particularly those of the Hauptwerk and Pedal were so severely damaged by cracks that many notes began to cease to function.  The church authorities in Hannover, who were officially responsible for the maintenance of the organ appointed a committee to examine it and offer suggestions for ways to repair these faults.  They concluded that the necessary reconditioning should be directed towards preservation of the original material, as well as just repair of the damage.  In other words, a return to the original state of the instrument as completed by Arp Schnitger, as far as this was practically possible.  Because the organ case had been reduced in size in 1816 in order for it to be able to fit into the church, alteration to the equal temperament, which was implemented in the late 19th century, could not be attempted as this would have meant lengthening and altering most of the original pipes which had been cut down at the time.  The Hamburg firm of Rudolph von Beckerath received the commission for this extensive restoration, which included reinstatement of mechanical action, was carried out between 1976 - 77 and financed through generous donations.

The last time I was in Cappel to visit this organ was in 2005 and I thought then that it would soon need some loving attention, but the instrument was basically sound.
The tonal disposition is as follows;


Quintadena 16
Prinzipal 8
Hohlflote 8
Oktave 4
Spitzflote 4
Nasat 3
Gemshorn 2
Rauschpfeife 2 fach
Mixtur 5 - 6 fach
Zimbel 3 fach
Trompete 8


Gedackt 8
Quintadena 8
Prinzipal 4
Rohrflote 4
Oktave 2
Sifflote 1.1 / 2
Sesquialtera 2 fach
Terzian 2 fach
Scharf 4 - 6 fach
Dulzian 16


Untersatz 16
Oktave 8
Oktave 4
Nachthorn 2
Rauschpfeife 2 fach
Posaune 16
Trompete 8
Cornet 2

Tremulant  ( whole organ )
Calcant  ( bellows signal )
3 Sperrventile  ( saving valves )

Manual shove coupler  (no Pedal coupler )

Compass :  C D Es E F G As A -c'''  (47 - Man )    C D - d'  ( 26 -Ped )

With best wishes
Reed organs and harmoniums / Re: Pressure Harmonium winding!
« Last post by bobtheorganist on April 14, 2017, 07:02:18 PM »
Many thanks to both of you. I know Phil Fluke, but he is fully booked for the reasonable  future...I have experience of re-building pianos, and am aware that a proper job is generally the best option, and also that the last generation of people who really knew harmonium repair are dead and gone. The top half of the instrument is in fine order - no running at all, even in touch and at pitch.
However, as with pianos, the cost of a repair is usually way beyond the value of the beast when eventually 'done'.
Time for a little head scratching, methinks!
Reed organs and harmoniums / Re: Pressure Harmonium winding!
« Last post by revtonynewnham on April 12, 2017, 09:12:42 AM »
Thanks David - it's good to know of another firm that will undertake reed organ work - and I can vouch for the quality of their organ building work, having used them to restore the c.1820 chamber organ in my previous church.  I know where to come when I need work doing!

I did say that patching was only a temporary measure!  I'm surprised that what was done on y Alexandre (not extensive patching) has held up as well as it has.  As always, doing the job properly is the best solution.

I did recently come across a reed organ that had been restored by a pipe organ builder, and the results did leave something to be desired (both my opinion & that of someone who knows more about reed organs than I do).  Not sure exactly what the issues were, but winding was not really adequate.  (No names, no pack drill as I don;t know the full circumstances, and the firm is no longer in business anyway).

Every Blessing

Reed organs and harmoniums / Re: Pressure Harmonium winding!
« Last post by David Wyld on April 11, 2017, 04:27:36 PM »
We (Henry Willis & Sons) have done at least 20 Harmonium restorations/refurbishments over the past 20 years since I became Managing Director:  these have included work on instruments by Mustel,  Alexandre, Schiedmayer, Christophe et Etienne as well as the more common 'American Organs' such as Spencer, R&D Apollo, Estey and my very own Aeolian Grand Player Organ.

There is no simple way of doing a patch repair if it is intended for it to be able to be forgotten about for a lifetime - the internal leathering of a feeder rib joint for example is actually just as important,  if not more so, than the outer bit which one sees.    It might be more correct to refer Tony's comments to the matter of the leather to be used and not necessarily pipe organ builders - the techniques are identical,  merely the materials which are different.   Most current-day 'restorers' started off themselves as amateur enthusiasts,  they are qualified by experience and not necessarily training.

If you have a year of your own time to spare and you don't mind being without the use of the instrument,  you can have a go yourself and save the money,  but if you want it turned around in a matter of a few days then pay an organbuilder or anyone else who can do this professionally the rate of about £25 per hour - much less than you will pay a washing machine serviceman and certainly a great deal less than servicing your car,  even though it requires a vastly greater amount of skill.

By the way,  don't be fooled by its looking like a reasonably straightforward job!

Reed organs and harmoniums / Re: Pressure Harmonium winding!
« Last post by revtonynewnham on April 11, 2017, 09:16:31 AM »

I assume you're in the UK.  Congratulations on acquiring an example of one of the most expressive keyboard instruments around!  Speccialists are few and far between at present, and the only person I know of in  the UK is Phil Fluke - see - tell him I sent you, but last time I was in touch he was very busy with his Harmonium hire business.  It would be well worth while you joining the Reed Organ Society ( (I'm currently the UK councill member) and I see the links page there includes a couple of well respected restorers on the continent, and also organ builders Holmes & Swift who have an excellent reputation for pipe organ work.

I would be a little reluctant to get ordinary pipe organ builders involved in Harmonium repair without making sure they understand what they're doing.

Repairing the existing leather may be possible (it's what Phil Fluke did on my Alexandre Harmonium about 10 years ago now, and the patches are still holding up despite some quite intensive use at times), although obviously a proper re-leathering is preferable.  Good luck with it - and please let me know how you get on.

The Reed Organ Society also have a database of organs - it would be good to add your Trayser to it (if you've not already done so).

Every Blessing

Reed organs and harmoniums / Pressure Harmonium winding!
« Last post by bobtheorganist on April 10, 2017, 06:08:33 PM »
I have just acquired a nice Trayser harmonium, hopefully to use in a performance of the Rossini Petite Messe.  All is well, and at pitch, in the upper half, but the feeders need re-leathering, and possibly the gussets of the reservoir.

Does anyone know of someone out there who does such repairs at a sensible price i.e. not something resembling a telephone number?! It looks a reasonably straightforward job, but I was just wondering....
Electronic Organs / An interesting afternoon
« Last post by revtonynewnham on April 03, 2017, 09:41:14 AM »

On Saturday afternoon I was able to get to a local "roadshow" arranged by Church Orgaan World (Johannus, Makin & Copeman-Hart, plus UK importer of Rogers organs).  It was very interesting to see and play a small range of instruments that they now sell - plus there was a large selection of CD's, DVD,s and sheet music to browse and buy - should have leeft my wallet at home!!!).

The venue was a church in Kenilworth that has recently been reordered nd Makin have installed a 3 manual organ with speakers (switable) at both West & East ends.  There was also a smaller Makin organ, plus an example of their custom built continuo organs, and the latest project  - the iLive, that has stop knobs that change wording when different sample sets are loaded!  In addition, there was a Johannus instrument designged for home practice, and a 3m Rogers.

It would be unfair for me to make anything othert than generalised comments on the instruments on the basis of a few minutes listening & playing in less than quiet circumstances!  Suffice to say I was quite impressed by the tonality of the budget Johannus - but then, it's been a couple of decades since I've played one of that brand.  Mixed feelings about the Makins (I didn't ry the iLive, but heard it a few times), and the Rogers is typically American - and fine for what it is.  All in all, an interesting expidition, and recommended if one comes to your area.

I should perhaps add that I'm more than happy with my current home organ, so I wasn't in organ purchase mode!

Every Blessing

Organs on eBay or for urgent sale / BRISTOL - 2-manual & pedal
« Last post by diapason on April 01, 2017, 05:17:53 PM »

On ebay.  Bidding around £200 at the moment.  Hope she can be saved.
Organ building and maintenance / Re: Organ Pipe Making observations
« Last post by JBR on March 20, 2017, 10:23:54 PM »
Firstly, your question on the Spitz Flute and Erzaeler.
The Spitz Flute is a medium sized, in bore and cut- up, a robustly - toned flute.  The word ' Spitz " implies that it has an open, invertly tapered body, and it has been traditionally used in the main 8 ft or 4ft flute chorus on the principal keyboard of the organ.  However, different organ builders might have their own interpretation on this.

Secondly, the Erzaeler, which is a little more difficult to explain.
In the USA, it generally denotes a mild - toned string stop, often paired with a Vox Celeste which gives an undulating effect when the two are used together.
       However, my own interpretation of the Erzaeler  (German : Narrator ) has always been a reed register

Thanks for your explanation.

I asked the question because, outwardly at least, the Spitz Flute and the Ezähler look very similar (in being tapered).  Consequently, I always thought that they must sound fairly similar too, although I realise that appearances can be deceptive and there are a number of alterations that can be made to change the sound of a pipe quite radically.

I can't say I have ever seen an Ezähler on a British organ, and had assumed that it was an entirely American thing which was just another name for a Spitz Flute or perhaps a Gemshorn.

If a mild string stop, then, could it be somewhat similar to a Spitzgamba which, I think, is more likely to be found in German speaking areas?

I confess that I was completely unaware that there were Ezählers in the form of reed stops.
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