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Messages - Ian van Deurne

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Pipe organ gravestones and plaques / Re: Paris Notre-Dame
« on: April 27, 2019, 11:41:51 PM »
No never. There's obviously been something lost in translation here. It's also a little worrying what's actually happened to the choir organ. Has it been destroyed or is it able to be restored?
Hopefully, as time passes we will be told more about the restoration about both organs. I'm going to try to make a visit to Paris sometime in the summer so perhaps I'll be able to find out a little more at first hand about what's happening with both organs. If I do I will make sure to inform everyone here.

With best wishes,

P,S. I once had to "guestimate" the weight of one of my own organs by the church architect as he wanted to know if the west gallery where it would be placed was strong enough to take the increase in weight as the former smaller organ was on the floor in the north transept. He had already determined that no structural reinforcements would be required so long as the organ would weigh no more than 42 tonnes. After making some very detailed calculations, I was able to inform him that the organ (Three manuals and pedal - 56 stops) would weigh around 27 tonnes, give or take 2 tonnes so all was okay. This organ was built in 1984 and to this day there has never been any structual problems with either the organ or the gallery so I think that I may have got everything right! 

Pipe organ gravestones and plaques / Re: Paris Notre-Dame
« on: April 26, 2019, 04:00:38 PM »
Thanks David for the update.

However, the news, by the cathedral organist himself that the staff of Notre Dame are going to raise the whole organ up "on a pulley" to get to the water damage seems rather frightening.
Doesn't he realise that an organ of this size will weigh around 85 tonnes at least!

Hopefully, someone will engage the services of a competent, professional organ builder before the instrument suffers even more damage than the fire ever did to it!

With best wishes,

Pipe organ gravestones and plaques / Re: Paris Notre-Dame
« on: April 18, 2019, 02:07:38 PM »
It would appear, according to the latest reports on social media that the great organ has miraculously survived the inferno. There is a photo of the west end of the building taken after the fire and it shows the front case intact, although how much smoke and water damage it has sustained is of course unknown at the present time. Not so much information as to the condition of the other organ in the choir is yet known, although in this case I would think that at least it must have suffered a great deal of water damage.

Although not really able to be classed as a genuine Cavaillé-Coll instrument anymore since it has been rebuilt many times, the great organ has a history that few other European instruments can match, For almost all of the major French organ composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries have either given concerts here or have been appointed as the organist at one time or another. From the time that the young Charles-Marie Widor was chosen to be one of the organists to inaugurate the new organ in 1868, the list of organists read like a veritable Who's Who of France at the time when French organ music dominated the whole scene, probably with just a single exception, the German composer Max Reger.

I hear that President Macron has said that the cathedral will be rebuilt by 2024 but I think that's just wishful thinking. Another problem is just how are they going to replace some of the massive timbers that have been there for the last 866 years, because there are no trees of that size in the whole of Europe today, most of them went on constructing large sailing ships from the 15th-18th centuries. So these giant timbers that supported the stone walls internally will probably have to be replaced by steel RSJ's enclosed in wood to make them look authentic, but of course, all of this will need to be investigated once the full extent of the damage has been evaluated and the best plans on how to restore this iconic building have been decided.

As for the organ, let us hope that it can be fully restored in time in the same way and sound condition that had inspired so many organists and listeners alike throughout its history.

With best wishes,

Organ Builders / Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (II) Plus 1
« on: April 14, 2019, 01:10:40 PM »
Don't know what happened there. I never pressed POST. Anyway, I will carry on.

1758  DANNENFELS  Ev. Kirche   II/P-12
The organ remains as the Stumm brothers left it, fully intact.

1758-59  DURLACH   Stadtkirche   III/P-39
1896  New organ by Heinrich Volt
1999  Restored by Fa. Goll Orgelbau
Only the case and three Principal registers by Stumm remain.

1759  WÖRRSTADT    Laurentiuskirche (RC)   II/P-30
1842  Overhauled and tonal specification altered by Bernhard Dreymann.
Further alterations followed over the next decades but most of the Stumm pipework survived intact, mostly due to their unbridled reputation in this part of Germany.
1975  A full restoration by Gebr. Oberlinger.
2001  Further overhaul with regulation and re-intonation by Rainer Müller to recover the original sound of the Stumm pipework.

1754-61  ENKIRCHE   Ev. Kirche   II/P-26
        With this instrument, the Stumm brothers worked at first with another local builder, Theodor Claus of Cochem
1905 The organ was renovated and slightly tonally altered by Gustav Stumm.
1962 Organ restored and returned to its original disposition by Oberlinger.

Großgedackt 16
Principal 8
Hohlpfeiff 8
Gamba 8
Quintadena 8
Oktav 4
Kleingedackt 4
Salicional 4
Quint 3
Superoktav 2
Tertz (1.3/5)
Mixtur 4 fach
Trompet 8 (throughout)
Vox Angelica 2 (bass - reed)


Gedackt 8
Flauto travers 8 (diskant)
Principal 4
Rohrflöte 4
Oktav 2
Quint 1.1/2
Flageolet 1
Sesquialter 2 fach
Mixtur 2 fach
Krummhorn 8


Subbaß 16
Oktavbaß 8
Oktav 4
Rohrpfeif 2
Posaune 16



1761  MANNHEIM   Konkordienkirche   ?/?-?
1795  The organ was completely destroyed in a church fire.

1762  METTENHEIM  (Rheinhessen)  Ev. Kirche   II/P-23
18??  Tonally altered by Heinrich Bechstein
1985  Restored and re-intonated by Förster & Nicolaus.
         The organ can be regarded once again as being in original condition. 

1764  BORNHEIM  (Rheinhessen)  Ev. Kirche   I/P-9
          The organ remains as built.

1766  FREIMERSHEIM  (Rheinhessen)  Ev. Kirche   I/P-9
         Sometime in the early 20th century the Trompet 8 was replaced, otherwise original.
         The specification is the same as her "sister organ" at Bornheim.

1764-68  MEISENHEIM  Schlosskirche   II/P-29
1687  Tonally altered slightly by Meyer Orgelbau, Herford but no pipes were replaced.
1968  Returned to its original disposition by Gebr. Oberlinger.
1994  Full restoration by Förster & Nicolaus so it can now be regarded as being back in original condition.

1768-69  ROTH (Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis)   Ev. Kirche   I/P-c.10
         Originally built in the west gallery
1783  A full restoration by Carl Friedrich Stumm
1852  The organ was taken down and placed in the Choir (builder unknown).
1892  Tonally altered (builder unknown)
1929  Replaced with a new organ by Gebr. Oberlinger.
1964  Organ returned to the west gallery. Only the original case by Stumm remains.

1769  RHEINBERG   St Peter   II/P-21
         Originally built for another unknown church
2009  The organ was replaced by a new instrument by Weimbs Orgelbau
         The original Stumm case remains.

1770  WORMS-PFEDDERSHEIM   Simultankirche (= conjoined church, evangelical part)  II/P-25
1913  The organ was replaced by a new instrument by Walcker built into the original case.

1771  BÄRSTADT  Martinskirche   II/P-23
         The organ remains fully as built.
2015  A full restoration was carried out by Förster & Nicolaus.

1772  HILLESHEIM   St Martin   I/P-14
1872  Rebuild and enlargement by Gebr. Müller Orgelbau (now II/P-28)
         Six original registers and the case by Stumm is all that remains.

1773  GAU-ODERNHEIM   Simultankirche (Ev.)   II/P-22
         The organ was rebuilt at least twice in the 19th century
         The case of neo-Gothic design replaced the original c.1881
2001  Restored by Förster & Nicolaus. 14 original stops* by Stumm remain.


Groß Quintadena 16
Principal 8 (case)
Gedackt 8*
Viol di Gamba 8*
Oktav 4*
Flauto4+Superoktav 2*
Terz 1.3/5*
Mixtur 4 fach


Quintadena 8
Flauto traverso 8*
Principal 4*
Flöte 4
Oktav 2
Nassat 1.1/2
Flageolet 1*
Mixtur 3 fach (2001 replaced unoriginal Salicional 8)
Vox Humana 8*


Violonbaß 16
Subbaß 16*
Oktavbaß 8
Posaune 16*




1773  MAINZ   Augustinerkirche   II/P-35
Built when the church was still part of an abbey. The original case design took up the whole width of the west gallery with the Hauptwerk in the centre, two Pedal sections on the north and south sides with a Kronpositiv above containing five stops conducted off the main Hauptwerk windchests. During the 19th and early 2oth centuries the case were altered Tonal alterations included the removal of the original reeds, said to be because they were originally "too French sounding". The Gamba 8 of the Hauptwerk and the Mixtur of the Positiv were also removed as well as replacement of the console for a free-standing one.
1991  Förster & Nicolaus Orgelbau undertook a full restoration of the organ which included the reconstruction of the original Hauptwerk reeds as well as the Gamba 8 and Mixtur of the Positiv. The remainer of the pipework is all original and is regarded today as one of the most beautiful sounding and visually inspiring of all the organs built by the Stumm family.

1775  SAARBRÜCKEN     Ludwigskirche   II/P-37
1944  The organ was destroyed through bombing, although the church survived and was rebuilt.
1982  A new organ was built in the rebuilt church by Rudolph von Beckerath (III/P-49) which was later placed within a copy of the original Stumm case by Orgelbau Kuhn.

c.1775  FRAMERSHEIM   Ev. Kirche  I/P-18
1981 A full restoration was undertaken by Förster & Nicolaus. The original organ for the most part survives.

1776  IRMENACH  Ev. Kirche   I/P-13
1965  The organ was altered by Gebr. Oberlinger which included replcing the original Trompet 8 and Vox Humana 8 for a Principal 8 and Aeoline 8.
         The Pedal compass was also extended from C-c' to C-d'.
1996  The organ was restored by Gustav Cartellieri who replaced the two reeds by removing the Principal and Aeoline although the extended Pedal compas remains.
         The Manual keyboards are divided between C-b in the bass and c-c''' in the treble.


Gedackt 8 (b/d)
Salicional 8 (b/d)
Traversflöte 8 (d)
Principal 4
Kleingedackt 4
Oktave 2
Tery (1.3/5)
Mixtur 3 fach
Trompet 8 (b/d)
Vox Humana 8 (b/d)


Subbaß 16
Oktavbaß 8

1778  BENDORF-SAYN     Abbey   Maria Himmelfahrt & St Johannes Evangelist    II/P-24

When I first moved to Germany in the early 1970's and after getting married, my new wife and I set up what was to become our family home in this village, along with our three children for nearly thirty years. This organ therefore, together with its "sister organ" just up the road in Heimbach Weis (see part one) were the first two instruments built by the Stumm family that I had ever encountered, which is why over the course of some forty-five years have grown to love and admire for the wonderful sound and build quality that their instruments possess.

The organ was placed cetrally on the west gallery of the abbey with the console at the side as is usually the case. The contract still survives and is dated 28th March 1778. It specifies that the casework should be made of the best quality oak and finished with appropriate decoration. The organ will be supplied with three wind bellows and with two manual keyboards with black ebony naturals and white ivory accidentals with a compass from C - d''' (51 notes) while the separate Pedal will have a compass from C - f  (just 18 notes!).

1887  The tonal specification was slightly altered and elarged to 29 stops. The gallery was deepened but the position of the organ remained unaltered so it was now standing in the centre of the gallery.

By the beginning of the 20th century the condition of the organ had deteriorated to such a degree that it became unplayable due to the extreme damp conditions inside the building, due to leaking roofs and to the fact that there wasn't any oney to available for any restoration work either for the organ or the building itself.
1954  The first attempt at a restoration of the organ finally got underway when for some unknown reason the Unterpositiv pipework and its case which was built into the breast of the main organ was separated from it and placed on the front of the gallery as a Rückpositiv.

1996-97  A full comprehensive restoration was finally carried out by Johannes Klais Orgelbau, Bonn. Apart from the task of restoring all the original pipework, they also removed the Unterpositiv from the front of the gallery and placed it back into the main case. So once again the organ is more or lass back in its original condition as the Stumm family left it   , aprt from the Pedal compass which had been extended to C - c' (25 notes) an alteration that datees from way back in the instrument's past.

My own company had been invited to tender for this work but unfortunately we were extremely busy, with three new organs under construction plus several restoration contracts ihand to be fulfilled. Although this in itself was a very good thing, I was still very sad that we had neither the space nor enough staff to be able to take on such an important task. That oupled with the fact that our German workshops were only 1.1/2 kilometres away from the abbey in the main town of Bendorf made it even more upsetting at the time. Howeer, with the contract finally being awarded to the organ builder that had originally trained me as a master organ builder, the regret of having to refuse the contract at least provided as small amount of comfort than would have been the case otherwise.


Pordong 8 (sic)
Flaut travers 8
Principal 4
Rohrflaut 4
Quint 3
Oktav 2
Mixtur 3 fach
Crom Horn 8
Vox Humana 8


Großgetact 16 (sic)
Principal 8
Hohl Pfeiff 8
Viol di Gamba 8
Oktav 4
Salcional 4
Flaut 4
Quint 3
Superoktav 2
Tertz (1.3/5)
Cornet 4 fach
Mixtur 4 fach
Trompet 8


Oktavbaß 8
Violoncell 8
Quint 6
Superoktav 4
Posaun Baß 16
Clarin Baß 4

Pedalcoppel  (II/P
Manualscheibecoppel  (Manual shove coupler - reconstructed)
New mechanical playing and stop action.

1778  FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN  Katharinenkirche   III/P-41

1790  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gave an organ concert here.

1883  The firm of Walcker built a new organ within the Stumm case.
1909  Rebuilt by Steinmeyer, again in the original case.
1944  Church and organ destroyed. Some old photographs of the interior of the church and organ still exist.

1780  SCHAUREN  (near Idar-Oberstein)  Ev. Kirche   I/P-13
         During the early 20th century some ranks were replaced.
1969  Replacement of the original lost stops by Gebr. Oberlinger,

1774-82  AMORBACH   former Benedictine Abbey   IV/P-66
         The largest organ built by the Stumm family and the only one that is internationally known as one of the finest German organs of the Classical Period,
1774  The organ was originally built containing 46 registers but was subsequently enlarged by the two brothers until it reached its completion in 1782
1868  The first major restoration was carried out by the firm of G. F. Steinmyer of Oettingen. During the 19th nd 20th centuries the organ continued to be cared for, 
         including making several tonal alterations and enlagements by the same firm.
1981-82 A full and comprehensive restoration was undertaken by Steinmeyer and Klais between them. The Echowerk, Hauptwerk and Positiv were returned to their original tonal specifications as the Stumm brothers had left them while the several worthwhile additions of later times were incorporated into a new fourth manual designed as a large Recit/Schwellwerk with reeds in the French style. A new four-manual mechanical/electric action integrated console was installed in the traditional posotion in the front casework, replacing a free standing electric action console of earlier times.


Hohlpfeife 8
Flaut 8
Gämesenhorn 4
Oktav 2
Quint 1.1/2
Flageolet 1
Krummhorn/Hautbois (b/d)
Vox Humana 8


Principal 16
Bourdon 16
Oktav 8
Gedackt 8
Viol di Gamba 8
Quint a Töne 8
Super Oktav 2
Klein Gedackt 4
Quint 3
Oktav 2
Cornet 5 fach (c')
Mixtur 6 fach
Cymbal 3 fach
Trompet 8 (b/d)
Vox Angelica 2 (b - reed)


Principal 8
Grob Gedackt 8
Flaut travers 8 (d)
Salicional 8
Oktav 4
Rohr-Flaut 4
Quint 3
Super Oktav 2
Terz 1.3/5
Mixtur 4 fach
Krummhorn 8
Vox Humana 8
Glockenspiel c' - f'''


Bourdon 16
Geigenprinzipal 8
Bourdon 8
Flute harmonique 8
Viola di Gamba 8
Vox coelestis 8 (a)
Geigenprinzipal 4
Konzertflöte 4
Piccolo 2
Sesquialtera 2 fach
Grobmixtur 12-16 fach (outside of swell box)
Pein Jeu 5 fach
Basson 16
Trompette harmonique 8
Hautbois 8
Clarion 4


Offnerbaß 16
Violonbaß 16
Subbaß 16
Oktavbaß 8
Celo 8
Super Oktav Baß 4
Flötenbaß 4
Mixturbaß 6 fach
Posaune 32
Posaunebaß 16
Fagotbaß 16
Batrompete 8
Klarinetbaß 4
Cornetbaß 2



(mixture of mechanical and electric couplers)

66 registers          5116 pipes

The organist here once told me that there are way more organ pipes in the small town of Amorbach than there are inhabitants, and yes, he wasn't wrong!

1776-82   SIMMERN (Hunsrück)  Stephanskirche   II/P-27
1934-35   Renovation and enlargement by G.F. Steinmeyer to II/P-32
               The organ still contains all of its original Stumm pipework
2007-09   Reconstructed and restored by Rainer Müller, Merxheim

Until next time, when I'll write about the third generation of this incredible organ building family.

With best wishes,


Organ Builders / The Stumm Organ Dynasty (II)
« on: April 14, 2019, 10:15:44 AM »
Here I am then with the second part, but first I need to make a small correction. Johann Michael Stumm, the founder of the dynasty married Eulalia Laux in 1704, not in 1714 as stated. This makes a difference because the birth dates of his two sons which we are now most concerned with wouldn't have made sense.
These two sons are;

Johann Philipp Stumm (b.24 August 1705, Sulzbach - D. 18 December 1776, Sulzbach).
Johann Heinrich Stumm (b.24 April 1715 (?), Sulzbach - 23 August 1778, Sulzbach).

Characteristics of the organ building practices of the second generation included the placement of the console on either the left or right side of the organ and the replacement of the usual Rückpositiv with eithe an Ober or Unterpositiv above or below the Hauptwerk. The Pedal pipes were usually situated behind the organ. The brothers also contributed to a large number of organ cases which conformed to the already established designs of the Rheinland.

By 1739, both brother were working in the Sulzbach workshops with their father, which they were both to take over upon his death in 1747. Their youngest brother Johann Friedrich (I) Stumm (natal and fatel dates uncertian) also worked with them from the time he left school. The fourth brother Johann Nikolaus Stumm (1706-1779) after working with his father and brothers in the Sulzbach workshops from the time he became of age, arried a girl from the town of Kastellaun and where he would eventually move to and start a seperate organ building of his own, although it is thought that he also still worked on a number of organs, especially the larger ones with his brothers. The Kastellaun workshop produced organs between 1748-1779 when he died. In later years his only son Heinrich Ernst Stumm (1756-1802) would work with him at the Kastellaun workshop. This part of the family still needs far more research done on it as we don't as yet have a definitive list of the instruments they solely built and where, and how much, if any of their work survives intact.

This was the heyday of the Sulzbach workshops which produced organs not only of the highest quality, but they were to also greatly extend the area where their instruments can be found.


1744     OBERLAHNSTEIN     St Martin   II/P-22
1962     Major restoration by Johannes Klais Orgelbau, Bonn   
1987   Restoration and revision of intonation by Van Deurne Orgelbau, Bendorf.
The organ remains as the builder left it and is in very good condition.

1745   ENSHEIM   Ev. Kirche   I/P-9
1984   First major restoration by Förster & Nicolaus
For the most part completely intact.

C:1749   KOBLENZ   St Maximim   I/P-8
Only the original case remains, the organ itself has been rebuilt many times.

1748-50   TRABACH   Ev. Kirche   II/P-22
1935  Alteration and enlargement by Otto Steinmeyer, increasing the number of stops to 27.
2008-10  Full restoration by Rainer Müller of Mexheim

1750  HEIMERSHEIM   Mauritiuskirche   I/p-9
1999  Restored by Förster & Nicolaus but only teo original stops remain intact.

1751  RAVERSBEUREN   Ev. Kirche   I/P-10
1892  Rebuilt and tonal specification slightly altered (builder unknown)
1972  Orgen restored and returned to its original disposition by Gebr. Oberlinger.

1753  SIMMERN (Hunsrück)   St Josef   ?/?-?
After various rebuilds in the 19th century, a new organ was built by local builder Heinrich Voltmann
Only part of the Stumm case survives.

1753-55  INGELHEIM   Burgkirche   ?/?-?
1913  After several 19th century rebuilds, a new organ was built by F. Walcker using the original Stumm case in the cetre of the gallery..
1963  Another new organ built by Emanuel Kemper when the Unterpositiv case was removed and the rest transferred to the northern side of the gallery.

1755  OSTHOFEN   Bergkirche   II/P-22
1748-55 Between these years the Stumm brothers built a one-manual organ before dding a second Positiv manual
1903  The organ was replaced with an entirely new one built by Orgelbau Link

1752-56  BECHTOLDSHEIM   Simultankirche  (Ev.)   II/P-28
1899  Rebuilt by Heinrich Bechstein but the greater part of the Stumm pipework remains intact.
2014-15  Full restoration by Förster & Nicolaus.

1757  TRIER   Welschnonnenkirche   I/p-11
1865  Rebuilt by Fa. Breidenfeld into original case.
1957  Further rebuilt by Gebr. Oberlinger
The specification now stands at II/P-23 and is the oldest organ in the city.




It's very sad to hear that one of the greatest English organists of the 20th century, Dr. Peter Hurford has died.

He was an inspiration to me as a music student and for many long years after.
During my time as an organ builder I would always try to attend one of his concerts if I was working anywhere near the venue where he was performing.

In his interpreatation of Bach, Buxtehude, Bruhns etc. as well is in his interpretaions of the Classical, Romantic and Modern eras, he ranked alongside with the best
European organists of his time, including Karl Straube, Guther Ramin, Karl Richter and Helmut Walcha.

Rest in Peace dear Peter, you will be sorely missed.

This seems rather interesting. Although I have no knowledge if this particular instrument, during my somewhat brief apprenticeship in England at the start of my career, I did come across several organs made by Conacher. It should be said that my master never rated them, regarding the company as " a third rate builder". However, I took a little time to study these organs in more detail and I myself concluded that they were extremely well constructed, although at that time I would have never been so bold as to contradict him. Musically, well that was a different matter. My master was not a musician, let alone an organist. But I was, having studied and played many different organs throughout Europe since I was eleven years old. And of course, coming originally from Alkmaar, I think I already knew what a great organ should actually sound like. So personally, I found that the organs from Conacher sounded extremely dull, inanimate and tonally flat, although sturdily and very well made. If only the original voicer had demonstrated some kind of musical understanding, then these instruments produced by Conacher might well have become far better known and as well received as any William Hill or Henry Willis organ of that same period.

With best wishes,

This seems rather interesting. Although I have no knowledge if this particular instrument, during my somewhat brief apprenticeship in England at the start of my career, I did come across several organs made by Conacher. It should be said that my master never rated them, regarding the company as " a third rate builder". However, I took a little time to study these organs in more detail and I myself concluded that they were extremely well constructed, although at that time I would have never been so bold as to contradict him. Musically, well that was a different matter. My master was not a musician, let alone an organist. But I was, having studied and played many different organs throughout Europe since I was eleven years old. And of course, coming originally from Alkmaar, I think I already knew what a great organ should actually sound like. So personally, I found that the organs from Conacher sounded extremely dull, inanimate and tonally flat, although sturdily and very well made. If only the original voicer had demonstrated some kind of musical understanding, then these instruments produced by Conacher might well have become far better known and as well received as any William Hill or Henry Willis organ of that same period.

With best wishes,

Organ Builders / Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« on: March 10, 2019, 05:28:27 PM »
Hi David,
The main reason why there are so many old organs that still remain in more or less their original condition seems to be due to one important issue: Lack of money.
This is true for most European countries, especially in Germany, the Netherlands, France and of course Great Britain.
It's a strange fact that recession favours the retention of so many old organs, although of course this does have its downside.
Many valuable old organs have simply been dismantled or sold for scrap because of total lack of any routine maintenance,
and I've sadly found this reason to be very prevalent in Britain.

I actually started my organ building apprenticeship in England with Hill, Norman & Beard after I left high school and worked with them for almost three years until I moved to Germany.
I spent a great deal of that time with one of their tuners covering the counties of Kent, East Sussex and south east London.
It was saddening to see so many old organs crying out for some tender love and care, but if we informed the church of this, the usual reply came back;
"We'd love to be able to do something, but we haven't any money"!
This might be all fair and well but......if only it was true!
One particular church in Kent (I'd better not say where) had an old two-manual and pedal organ, no magnificent masterpiece but more than adequate for the task that it had been built for
around 1875 it adequately fulfilled the role for which it was assigned: to accompany the choir and community in singing hymns plus performing the usual "Voluntary" before and after the services.
One day whilst rummaging around in an old box near the console that contained various old music scores and other bits and pieces I found the old tuner's book, the first entry was dated 12th May 1909.
There then followed the usual series of notes by the organist and the tuner of the time, saying what faults had been found during playing and the tuner's response, ticking the fault as being repaired,
then recording the temperature of the building and date of the visit. All the usual stuff.
Glancing through this book further, I actually found the date recorded when the organ had last received a proper clean and overhaul: 25th August 1928!
The book was in current use all through the war and long after before it was filled, the last entry date being 23rd May 1956.
The current tuner's book had started on 12th February 1958, but since the organ was tuned only once per year this would seem to be a direct continuation from the last one.
The date of our visit then was mid July 1972, which meant that this poor old organ had not had any proper attention given to it for 44 years. No wonder it was falling apart, with so many wind leaks,
various unmusical noises permanently contributing to the sound, plus a tremulant that, once you managed to get it to operate by banging the stop knob in and out a few times, virtually shook the whole instrument, building frame and all, with a chuffing noise like a steam train! And to top it all, the instrument was so incredibly dirty, its a wonder anything musical was able to emulate from it at all!

After my master had reported this to the organist, the usual reply came back: no money, no money at all, so PLEASE get it to play for a little longer!

Our next visit there was at the end of June 1973 and there we found the organ, just as we'd left it.
Except for one thing.
The church contained a medieval stone pulpit, early 15th century I believe. At our last visit it had been hardly noticeable, just an old grey colour.
Now, however, it had been totally transformed into a picture of beauty. Lovingly restored, with all the medieval tracery and ornaments repainted in their original colours
"Isn't it just beautiful!" beamed the vicar. "We'd been meaning to get this wonderful piece of art restored for ages and now we've succeeded!" he cried.
"Yes it sure is wonderful, but I thought the church had no money for any kind if restoration work." my master replied.
"Oh, we've been collecting for donations and last year's village fête raised quite a considerable amount as well" said the vicar
My master then looked seriously at him. "So how much did it actually cost?" he asked.
"It was very reasonable, considering what had to be done to get it all back in its original state. A little over £1400." came the reply.
I then looked up at the organ sitting on the south transept gallery. Still falling apart with it's sorry condition apparently of no interest whatsoever to the community.

After we'd left, back in the car my master exploded. "That's it, I'm done with the bloody lot of them. We've got no money, we've got no money they cry, then go and spend a
ridiculous amount of dosh on a stupid old pulpit, with the organ, a proper asset that they need to use every week at least still left to rot. They're f.....g out of their tiny minds!"
He was indeed very cross, and so was I as I've never forgotten it.

That's just one small example though, for there's countless others like it. However, I do try to think of the positive side.
Many valuable instruments have survived well with the main reason being due to the lack of money.

The great Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ in my home town of Alkmaar has come very close to either been completely destroyed/replaced, or altered beyond belief by people
who were so dumb, they hadn't a clue of what was standing in front of them. The last serious threat came in 1944 when the then organist, a Dr Bonner wanted to install
a new four-manual electric console and place it on the floor of the church. In the space occupied by the original console and mechanics he wanted to create a new swell
department on the fourth manual. Electrification of the entire instrument would also be undertaken. He actually went as to order new ranks of pipes for this department from pipemakers
Stinkens which were duly delivered. However, the organ builder Dirk Flentrop had intervened by this time and subsequently restored the organ as it was with some stops
renewed according to how Schnitger had left it but with other slides left vacant to be determined at a later date. The pipes ordered from Stinkens were never used and remain
in one of the rooms at the side of the organ. This wasn't fulfilled until the full restoration between 1982-87 when money didn't seem to be so much of a problem.
The entire restoration of this magnificent organ cost no less than 3.000.000 guilders!

So yes, we all live in hope.
With best wishws,

Organ Builders / Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« on: March 07, 2019, 10:44:15 PM »
Thank you very much Tony for your kind comments.

I will continue with the subject of the family Stumm, mainly because I believe that the people who know and love
the organ will benefit from knowing more about this wonderful instrument and the very talented people that have
contributed to it's history and development over the last 400 years.

I don't think that I'd ever want to write a book, but I had at one time considered the history of the Stumm family
as a pertinent subject for a PhD thesis, because now that I've actually retired from building organs I might have
far more time to devote to it. Although at the moment I'm not too sure because it would involve a great many
visits back to the Rheinland to closely study many of the extant Stumm organs from each generation
(i.e. pipe scales for each building, cut-ups etc, although I had done some of this long ago when still an apprentice
organ builder), which may prove to be too exhausting, but I haven't yet dismissed this idea completely.

But rest assured, I will continue writing about the second generation of the Stumm family here in due course.

With very best wishes,

Organ Builders / The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« on: March 06, 2019, 03:29:48 PM »
As I promised you all some time ago, here is the first part of the history of the Stumm organ dynasty. Since it's going to take some time, I'm going to have to split it into several parts.

Two of the most famous German organ building families of the 17th and 18th centuries are well-known: that of the Schnitger and Silbermann families. However, there is another family of organ builders that became active during this period but seem to be hardly known outside of Germany but are no less important to the development of organ building in Europe. Through no less than seven generations, the Stumm family built around 370 new organs, of which around 140 of them survive today in more or less their original state.

The roots of the family can be traced back to the town of Rhaunen in the Hunsruck, the hilly area to the west of the Rhein gorge. In 1659 Johann Nikolaus Stumm was born there who was to continue working the family blacksmith's forge in the town. His eldest son, Johann Christian Stumm was to have a son who became the founder of the organ building dynasty called Johann Michael Stumm. He originally studied to be a goldsmith before he married Eulalia Gertraude Laux in Sulzbach in 1714, to which town the newlyweds would then move to. From there he established an organ building workshop which was to serve the family for almost two-hundred years. His own extensive family was to comprise of six sons and two daughters. Apart from being trained first as a goldsmith, it would appear that he had always been fascinated with organs, for just after his marriage he had bought at an auction, a small one-manual house organ that he set about renovating. Apart from this small snippet of information, we have no other details about where of with whom he was to take on an apprenticeship in the trade, or indeed who or what would be the inspiration for the style he was to ultimately adopt. The known organ masters active at that time in the Rheinland include Johannes Irrlacher, Johann Hoffmann, Johann Jakob Dahm and Otto Richard Menzenius who are all possibilities, but as yet none of these have definately proven to have been his teacher. At any rate, he was first acknowledged to be a master organ builder in the contract for building the organ at Munstermaifeld in 1722. This would tie in nicely for the normal apprenticeship length of seven years, given that he would have started between 1714-15 shortly after first moving to Sulzbach.

The style adopted by Johann Michael Stumm show French influences, especially in the reeds. A typical two-manual organ would contain a Hauptwerk and Ruckpositiv, with the case design being characterised by three round towers on both sides and in the middle with or two tier flat stories between. This design can ultimately traced back to Rheinische influences. The case designs from the second generation of the family were to contain far more flamboyant expansive detail which reached their peak in the organs at Amorbach, Saarbrucken and Frankfurt-am-Main.

First Generation

Johann Michael Stumm, (Rhaunen 10th April 1683 - 22nd April 1747 Sulzbach), was almost an exact contemporary of Gottfried Silbermann (1683-1753), who merged the French, or more properly, the Alsatian, southern German and Austrian organ-building principles with the mid-German style into a perfect independent synthesis. The selection of the very best materials for construction, including the use of high quality oak which was stored for 15 years at the Stumm workshops before use, was already regarded in the 18th century as a guarantee of the best possible quality. The specification of the house organ that Johann Michael had acquired at the auction had been built by the aforementioned Johannes Irrlacher and obviously contributed to his inspiration. This small organ contained the following stops: Burdon 8', Rohrflot 4', Oktav2, Salcional 2' (bass), Salicional 4' disk and Quint 1.1/2. It is not known whether this instrument contained an attached pedal, but this specification was to form the basis for many of the subsidiary ranks of his subsequent organs. The overall tonal specifications developed at this time remained as standard for all subsequent generations of the family. The company achieved its greatest period of prosperity in the second generation with brothers Johann Philipp and Johann Heinrich Stumm, in terms of superior build quality, popularity and reputation of the highest degree. The later generations followed on from this good reputation and continued with the same principles of organ building conservatively, without making any major changes to the overall tonal structure, complete with the same high build quality and characteristic intonation.

The overall design and sound conception of the Stumm organ underwent very little change through the generations and were only slightly modified for reasons of the spatial conditions and the size of each instrument. Of the 30 different case designs which can be seen throughout the Rheinland during this period, half of which are due to the Stumm family alone and especially to the second generation, whose cases would slowly develop up until about 1830. Some of them would also serve as a model for other organ builders. While Johann Michael preferred the inclusion of a Ruckpositiv for the second manual, his descendants would usually incorporate this into the main case below the Hauptwerk as an Unterpositiv. For the third manual, Johann Michael developed this department as an Echowerk, in addition to the Ruckpositiv which was then placed as close to the floor as possible in the base of the main case behind the console. The pipes were enclosed in a wooden box with holes drilled into the front side and the top of the box was removable to provide access for tuning. This department was never conceived to be under expression with louvres connected to a swell pedal as it would become later, but rather as a soft section for emphasising quiet moments in the music or for accompanying the choir. According to the traditions of the middle Rhein area, the Pedal compass was at first only 1.1/2 octaves (C,D-g = 18 notes), omitting bottom C# as in the manuals which had a compass of either C,D- C''' (48) or-d''' (50). Pneumatic cone windchests were not used until the fifth generation of the family, and from this time on the case designs became either neo-Gothic or neo-Romanesque, often, as was customary from this time onwards, predetermined by the church architect rather than the organ builders themselves.

List of Works by Johann Michael Stumm            In the descriptions, a large P indicates a independent Pedal, a small p indicates an attached pedal.

1717   Kirchberg, St Michael.   I/P-14
This is the first organ known to be built by J.M. Stumm. According to the contract it was based on a Principal 4'.
The Pedal contained just a Principalbass 8'. 
This organ was taken down in 1753 with a new organ replacing it by Richard Nollet a year later.

1722   Munstermaifeld, Collegiate Church   II/P-22
The first contract that describes Stumm as a master organ builder.
The organ was built with a Ruckpositiv which has disappeared.
Replaced by a new organ in 1864 by Ludwig Hund. Only the main original case survives.

1723   Rhaunen, Ev. Church   I/P-13
Console situated at the rear of the organ
In the 19th and early 20th centuries various reconstructions, including by Gustav Stumm (see later).
Loss of the original Quint 3, Terz (1.3/5), Trompet and Vox Humana registers.
1934  Enlargement and action renewed by Oberlinger, increasing to II/P-17.
1977-78  Restoration and reconstruction of the original keyboard, playing and register action
Reconstruction of the Trompet and Vox Humana and removal of the 1934 additions by Johannes Klais.
There still remains a very high proportion of original pipes.



Principal 8
Hohlpfeiff 8
Oktav 4
Floth 4
Quint 3
Superoktav 2
Terz (1.3/5)
Cornett 4 fach
Mixtur 3 fach
Trompet 8 (bass/disk)
Vox Humana 8 (bass/disk)


Subbass 16
Principalbass 8

c.1723  Weiler bei Monzingen, Pffarkirche   I/p-7
Originally the console was at the back but was moved to the side sometime during the second generation
In the early 20th century Terz (1.3/5) and Crumhorn 8 (bass) and Trompet 8 (disk) were replaced for a Geigenprincipal 8 and Salicional 8.
1917 the case pipes were taken to make bullets for the war effort.
1992  Reconstruction of the original specification by Klais, with the original stops; Hohlpfeiff 8, Flot 4, Quint 3, Oktav 2 and the remaining inner pipes of the Principal 4,
integrated with the new case pipes for Principal 4, Mixtur 3 fach, Crumhorn 8 (bass) and Trompet 8 (disk) copied from other Stumm pipes.
The side console remains complete with the original attached pedal (C,D-c'), probably the oldest surviving original.

Hergenfeld, Catholic Church   I/P-11
Built for the Catholic Church at Stromberg.
1863  Transported to Hergenfeld and rebuilt by a local builder Johann Schlaad with a new case and side console which meant the original Principal 4 was lost.
In the early 20th century the original Quint 3 and Terz (1.3/5) were replaced with Salicional 8 and Aeoline 8.
Eight original ranks remain.

1728   Karden, St Castor   III/P-29
The first three-manual organ by Stumm (with Echowerk).
1763  Johann Phillipp and Johann Heinrich Stumm enlarged the organ with Posaunenbass 16 in the Pedal and Crumhorn 8 in the Ruckpositiv.
1901  Lauren Broecher from Merzig altered the tonal specification according to the taste of the time.
1933-35  Organ rebuilt by Johannes Klais. This included replacing the action with electro-pneumatic and providing a new three-manual detached console.
1973 Klais attempted a reconstruction of the original organ complete with a ghastly modern mechanical action console, totally out of keeping with the historic Stumm case.
Only seven complete and seven partly complete stops by Stumm remain, but the original case complete with Ruckpositiv has been preserved.
In the quoted specification of today, it will be seen that in this first provision of an Echowerk, the specification follows closely to the original one-manual house organ built by
Johannes Irrlacher which Stumm had purchased at the auction in 1714. This leads me to the conclusion that Irrlacher is the best candidate for teaching Stumm the trade.


I. Ruckpositiv

Hohlpfeiff 8
Diskantflot 8 (c')
Principal 4 (case)
Rohrflot 4
Octava 2 
Quint 1.1/2
Trompet 8 (throughout)

II. Hauptwerk

Grossgedackt 16
Principal 8
Viol di Gamba 8
Hohlpfeiff 8
Octava 4
Flot 4
Quint 3
Superoctava 2
Tertz 1.3/5 (sic)
Quintflot 1.1/2
Cornet 4 fach (diskant)
Mixtur 4 fach
Cromhorn 8

III. Echowerk

Hohlpfeiff 8
Rohrflot 4
Salicional 2/4 from c'
Octava 2
Quint 1.1/2
Mixtur 3 fach
Cymbel 2 fach
Vox Humana 8


Sub Bass 16
Octav Bass 8
Posaune 16
Trompet 8
Clarin 4



1728  Schwarzheindorf   Kirche   II/P-25
This organ has travelled around. Originally built for the Franziskanerkirche in Koblenz
c.1803 Purchased by the St Clemenskirche in Mayen.
1875 it went to Nachtsheim before coming here in 1936
1966-68  Restored by Johannes Klais, and again in 2007 by Schimmel.
Alhough the case survives virtually intact there remains just one rank of original pipes by Stumm.

c.1735  Traben-Trarbach   Ev. Kirche St Peter   I/P-12
1880  Rebuilt, builder unknown.
1957  Reconstruction and complete rebuild by Oberlinger, now II/P-23.
1984  Further rebuild by Gustav Cartellieri when it was enlarged to three manuals
Only the original case by Stumm remains

1737  Hottenbach, Evangelical Church   I/P- ?
1782  Rebuilt by Johann Nikolaus or Johann Friedrich Stumm.
1904  Radical rebuild by Gustav Stumm.
The original case survives intact but only five stops remain from the original organ.

1737  Alzey, Kleinkirche   II/P-19.
1882  The Pedal was enlarged with two stops by Karl Landort.
1950  Rebuilt by Forster & Nicolaus, losing the original Viol di Gamba 8.
1998  Restortion by the same firm who retained all the original stops except for Hw. Salicional 4, now Salicional 8 (diskant)
and Ew. Cromhorn 8 (diskant, now Trompet 8 (diskant),

1738  Leutersdorf, St Laurentius  III/P-28
I can happily report that this instrument has survived completely intact as Stumm left it

1738  Mulhelm an der Eis, Schlosskirche   II/P-24
This organ has had various stops replaced oer the years, including the Trompet 8, Crumhorn 8 and Vox Humana.
The keyboards and pedalboard have also been renewed.
This organ is the only one built by Johann Michael Stumm that contains a Gemshorn 8 in the Hauptwerk.

1739  Armsheim, Zum Heiligen Blut Christi   II/P-20
Another Stumm organ that remains exactly as the original builder left it.

1738-40   Heimbach-Weis, St Margaretha   III/P-37
Originally built for the abbey at Rommersdorf
1809  After the secularisation of the abbey the organ came here.
Originally built as a two-manual instrument in 1738, the Echowerk was added by Johann Michael Stumm in 1740.
1942  The church was severely damaged by an incendary bomb, which took most of the Ruckpositiv case and its pipework with it.
1962  After the church had been repaired work started on the restoration of the organ by Johannes Klais.
They built a new Ruckpositiv case, identical to the original and replaced the pipework that could not be saved with faithful copies of the originals, although only around 20% had survived.
A new free-standing modern console was placed directly behind the Ruckpositiv, abouut 2 meters from the main case with mechanical playing and electric register action.
This was the first Stumm organ that I ever visted and played and its wonderful sound has left an indelible impression on me ever since.
It was also to become the nearest Stumm organ to our family home, which is situated only 2.Km away so it has almost become an extension to our family as I and my two
eldest daughters have visited and played it regularly since this first time. Another Stumm organ at Sayn Abbey is almost as close.

1740   Bad Sobernheim, St Matthias   II/P-25.
1876  The organ was rebuilt by local builder Johann Schlaad, although not drastically.
1972  The organ was renovated and the Pedal enlarged by Paul Ott of Gottingen which increased the size of the organ to 30 stops.
20 ranks from the original organ remain either partly or wholly intact.
2003-05  The organ was painstakingly restored by Rainer Muller of Merxheim.
The Ott enlargements were removed leaving the disposition once again as Stumm had left it.


Getact 8 (sic)
Solicinal 8 (disk)
Principal 4
Rohrfloth 4
Octav 2
Quint 1.1/2
Mixtur 3 fach
Cromhorn 8
Vox Humana 8


Getact 16
Principal 8
Getact 8
Violdigamb 8
Octav 4
Floth 4
Solicinal 4
Quint 3
Superoctav 2
Terz 1.3/5
Cornet 4 fach
Mixtur 4 fach
Trompet 8 (bass/disk)


Subbass 16
Principal Bass 8
Posaun Bass 16

Manualcoppel (shove coupler)

1739  Spabrucken, Maria Himmelfahrt   II/P-26
Originally the console was at the back of the organ. The second manual pipework is situated in the base of the main case and is specified as an Unterpositiv as it has no Echo box.
1896  The organ was rebuilt and the action converted to pneumatic by a local builder Johann Stockhausen. 15 original stops in either complete or part condition remain.
1988  The organ was restored. The pneumatic action removed and replaced once again with mechanical action by Oberlinger.
2011  An attempt was made to recover the original sound and Stumm intonation by Raab-Plenz Orgelbau of Bad Kreuznach.

1741  Waldlauberstein, Martinskirche   I/P-14
The manual pipework remains completely original
The organ was originally built with only an attached pedal but in the late 19th century a Grosshohlpfeiff was added, standing on its own windchest at the back of the organ
by Johann Schlaad.

1743   Lotzbeuren, Ev. Kirche   I/P-9
Another instrumant that has survived the ravages of time and remains completely original.

1743  Finkenbach-Gersweiler  Pfarrkirche  I/P-10
1919. The organ was replaced by Walcker (II/P-15).
1962  That organ was replaced by Oberlinger
Only the original case by Stumm survives.

1743-45  Kirchheimbolanden, Wehrkirche   III/P-45
In terms of the number of original stops, this organ is the largest remaining original instrument by Johann Michael Stumm,
containing I. Unterwerk, II. Hauptwerk, III. Echowerk and Pedal, situated in two large pedal towers on each side.
1778  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gave an organ concert here and thereafter the organ became known as the "Mozartorgel".
1971  The organ was given a complete restoration by Oberlinger and still sounds as wonderful as the day that Stumm built it.

1746  Sulzbach, Ev. Kirche  II/P-23    The last organ known to be built by Johann Michael Stumm.
In 1800 all the Stumm pipework was ripped out of the organ and destroyed by French soldiers.
The organ remained silent until 1820 when all the pipes were replaced by a subsequent generation of the Stumm family according to the original specification,
except that the Unterwerk was slightly altered.
1934  Restored by Oberlinger.
1980-82  Another restoration by Johannes Klais.
During this time a spare slide on the Hauptwerk chest was filled by a Clarin 4'.
The original chromatic Pedal windchest behind the organ was reconstructed with Subbass 16, Oktavbass 8' and Quintbass 6'.

Thus we come to the end of instruments built by Johann Michael Stumm, the first generation of of this prolific family of organ builders
I will gladly continue with this another time if anyone thinks that it's interesting enough.

Until then, with best wishes,

Hi David,
It would appear that several decades before the birth of Mozart, most examples of the well-tempered system were based upon 1/6th comma meantone to a more or lesser extent. This is also true in the case of Beethoven. It wasn't really until the 1840's that equal temperament began to find great favour within the musical fraternity, mainly because of performers and composers such as Franz Liszt began to push the musical boundaries much further by modulating into ever more remote keys which proved too much for the tuning systems of the time. So much so that eventually something had to give, and that of course Was the gradual adoption of equal temperament until it became virtually universal, at the expense of individual nuances between the various key signatures and "key flavour" resulting in a more dull and lifeless sound, given that every note is now out of tune to its neighbour by 1.1/2th of a degree.

Although well-tempered systems had started in the early 18th century, some organ builders, brought up with the less flexible meantone systems still tefused to have anything to do with these "modern usurpers". The irascible master Gottfried Silbermann for example would have absolutely nothing to do them and positively refused to tune his instruments any other way than in 1/6th comma meantone, even when requested to do so by his very good friend Bach, and it is on record that they quarelled frequently over the matter, with Bach being quoted after shugging his shoulders this particular day and saying: "Well, you may tune it just as you like, but I will play it just as I like!" - and with that he started to improvise a prelude and fugue in A-flat Major, thus causing Silbermann to run quickly out of the church, holding his ears against his own 'Wolf".

I have never employed Vallotti temperament myself, although had I built an organ of any significant size in England I would have probably considered doing so as I know that at one time it was very popular in the country. Like you, I prefer well-tempered systems with a stronger key flavour, so therefore I have used both Kellner and Kirnberger I - III (both one time students of Bach) quite often. Others, including the early temperaments of Werckmeister, himself an organist, Sorge (1760 - ideal for music from the classical period, like Mozart) and of course Neidhardt I (1724), your "Village" example, which is stronger than his later temperaments, although it does seem to favour the sharp keys somewhat. Two others that I of course often employ were devised by myself: Van Deurne I and Van Deurne (Bach) II. Unfortunately, I don't have the tuning tables at hand  for these at the moment but I will post them sometime after I discover where they are (Im thinking my eldest daughter Karina has "borrowed" them as usual but I cannot think why. She's never tuned an organ herself ever, she always relies on me to do it for her!)

To end, I'll quote the tonal specification of our company's own organ mentioned before, at the Liebfrauenkirche in Lindau. I wouldn't normally do so because the flaunting of one's own work to me feels like posturing. Please note that this church is not the principal  "Notre Dame" Cathedral in the city centre (that church contains an organ by Steinmeyer), but is much further out in the suburbs, therefore not on the island itself.


Gedackt 16
Principal 8
Rohrflöte 8
Quintaden 8
Octave 4
Spitzflöte 4
Rohrquinte 2.2/3
Superoctave 2
Waldflöte 2
Tertia 1.3/5
Spitzquinte 1.1/3
Sifflöt 1
Scharff 4-5 fach
Dulzian 16
Trichterregal 8


Principal 16
Principal 8
Bifaria II 8 (c)
Viola da Gamba 8
Doppelgedackt 8
Octave 4
Traversflöte 4
Tertia 3.1/5
Quinte 2.2/3
Superoctave 2
Flachflöte 2
Cornet 5 fach  (g - hochgefürt)
Mixtur 6 fach
Cimbel 3 fach
Trompete 16
Trompete 8
Saboiana 8

III. Rècit expressif

Contraviole 16
Diapason 8
Salicional 8
Voix colestis 8 (c)
Flûte harmonique 8
Nasard 2.2/3
Doublette 2
Echocornet 3 fach (g) 
Fourniture 6 fach
Acuta 3 fach
Basson 16
Trompette 8
Hautbois 8
Clarion 4
Voix humaine 8


Untersatz 32
Principal 16
Violonbass 16
Subbass 16
Octavbass 8
Violoncello 8
Superoctave 4
Dolkan 4
Nachthorn 2
Mixtur 6 fach
Contrafagott 32
Posaune 16
Trompete 8
Altotrompete 4
Singend Cornet 2


III/16  III/4  III/-8


Tremblant fortè (whole organ)
Tremblant doux (Chorwerk)
Schwebung  (Rècit expressif)
Philomena (birdsong)
Tastenretierung (Hauptwerk - locks the keys down to enable large chords to be built up).

Compass: C - g' - a''' (32 - 58 notes)

64 Register           4,720 Pipes

With best wishes,


As far as Europe was concerned, the employment of basic meantone temperaments had long ceased by the time that Mozart had started to compose. By the 1770s, modified versions of either 5th or 6th comma meantone systems were all in favour,  hence the creation of Bach's 48 preludes and fugues. As for Charles Burney, I really couldn't speculate, given his strange ideas on his contemporary musicians, but it's perfectly feasible that he may still have been cemented to the even then archaic tuning system.

The only firm evidence that I can provide from this period is of course for organs. Mozart we know was very fond of them, and it was he who first coined the phrase as the organ being "The King of Instruments" after visiting the Christiaan Müller organ at Sint Bavo in Haarlem in 1767 when he was 11 years old. From its inseption this organ was well-tempered, to a modified form of 1/6th comma meantone. Händel also visited this organ around a decade earlier and was also suitibly impressed. However, Charles Burney, when writing in his 'Diary of a Musical Journey' in the mid 1770s stated that after visiting Sint Bavo, he found that the organ "be crammed full of noisy stops, all out of tune". This is one reason why that we all need to take his opinions with a pinch of salt.

On the face of it, I cannot think of any reference to Beethoven playing the organ with any regularity, although it is known that he did so occasionally. At any rate, his Graaf piano, which he would one day saw the legs off, would also have been well-tempered.

During my own life as both an organ builder and player, whenever I would build a new organ, I would always set the tuning as being well-tempered as standard, unless otherwise instructed by the client (and I have to say that in this I wasn't always successful), for to my musical ear the organ sounds far better, more integrated when tuned unequally. The Mixtures and Cimbels also calm down and fail to scream, even in a really dry acoustic. A few weeks ago I gave an organ concert of music by Widor :excerpts from his organ symphonies culminating in the 5th Symphony in its entirity. This was performed on one of my own organs at the Liebfrauenkirche in Lindau, III/64. This organ is tuned to the well-tempered  system devised by Neidhardt in 1724 but believe me, the music of Widor sounds just wonderful when played on an instrument tuned in this manner!

[Thank you very much Tony for taking the time to check this out. I thought it was nonsense, but there again, since this story was told to me by a long term resident of the town, I thought at least that I had better check it out.

With best wishes

Hiya everyone!

I've just heard that the Regal cinema in Godalming, built in 1935 was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ when it was first built. Does anyone know if this is true, or just wishful thinking?  I can remember this building when I was very young but I would never have thought this could be true, for at the time the town must have been far too small for such an expensive instrument to have beinancially viable.

With best been been s

Hiya everyone!

I've just heard that the Regal cinema in Godalming, built in 1935 was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ when it was first built. Does anyone know if this is true, or just wishful thinking?  I can remember this building when I was very young but I would never have thought this couldn't be true, for at the time the town must have been far too small for such an expensive instrument to have blended blended een financially viable.

With best wishes

Organ Builders / Petrus van Oecklen (1792-1878)
« on: March 08, 2018, 08:32:20 AM »
Petrus van Oecklen can with confidence be called an exceptional organ builder. During the course of his lifetime he was extremely successful, unafraid of pioneering commercial or musical adventure, and of a perseverant nature
    He was born in Breda on 15th August 1792. His father Cornelis worked principally as a clockmaker but who also dabbled with the maintenance of carillons and organs. His companion, or mentor in his organ activities was the now virtually unknown organ builder Christiaanen (sometimes referred to as Christianus), who is documented as being a "master organ maker". Although Cornelis worked mainly on the restoration and repair of organs, he did manage to construct several beautiful instruments of his own, such as the still extant organ at Oud-Beijerland.
    The success of this instrument earned him the contract to build an organ in the Dutch Reformed Church at Strijen  in 1837. However, he died on 29th August of that year, so the instrument was completed by his son Petrus. In fact, this was actually Petrus's second organ for he had delivered his first to the Dutch Reformed Church at Assen a few years before.
    Between his early years and the construction of these two organs lies the  important year of 1810 when he made one of the most important decisions of his life: he moved from Breda to Groningen, which was a big step for a young man who had just reached his eighteenth birthday. In addition Petrus, a Roman Catholic, found himself in the strangely Protestant north, where Catholic enclaves were only to be found in the largest cities. Doubtless Petrus made this move already with a certainty of gaining a sufficient means of employment in Groningen of which we have no record. It's more than likely, however, that he had already been appointed the Carilloneur of the Martinikerk tower in Groningen as there could be no doubt of his experience in this field, having been the Municipal Carilloneur of Breda since his sixteenth year. It is also probable that he had already secured a position as an organ builder's apprentice. There were two possible firms, that of Heinrich Hermann Freitag,  a former apprentice of Albertus Anthoni Hinsz, who with Frans Caspar Schnitger Jr had taken over his business upon his death, and which on Freitag's death in 1811 was continued by his son Eberhard Freitag and Johannes Wilhelmus Timpe, who died in 1837.
    Whatever the facts might be, it is certain that he quickly managed to win himself a place in the musical life of the city of Groningen. He made the transition from apprentice to independent organ builder in 1819 with the delivery of his first organ to the Dutch Reformed Church at Assen. It is also noteworthy that the term of "musical instrument maker" is often referred to regarding him, implying that he occupied himself with musical instruments other than with the organ alone. It is also known that as a musician he was competent on the piano, carillon, violoncello and contrabass as well as on the organ.
    His personal life was equally successful. On 30th June 1825 he married Joanna Maria Theresia Auwerda. They were to have six children, among them Cornelis Aldegundis and Antonius, who would continue their father's flourishing company after his death. The family's large house still stands in Harendermolen.
    In addition to his occupational activities, Petrus van Oecklen gathered various people around him who occupied important positions in the life of Groningen, and whose influence was most useful in gaining him further contracts...... and there were a lot of contracts, mainly because this was a moment in time when many churches in smaller villages were commissioning new organs, sometimes to replace a harmonium. The nobility often played an important role in arranging these commissions: they were not only wealthy, but they were also active as church trustees.
    In this connection it was Jonkheer (Squire) Samuël Wolther Trip who was particularly important. He was an influential Groninger nobleman who was also a proficient amateur organist. Over the course of time he would become a kind of "ambassador" for the work of Petrus van Oecklen, and was responsible for gaining him many contracts. It was often Trip as well who would inaugurate the new instruments at their dedication services. There is no doubt then that Petrus would have cherished the friendship that grew between them over the years.
    Petrus van Oecklen should also be remembered as one of the first organ builders who developed as certain degree of mass production methods into the craft. For many parts were absolutely uniform and were constructed according to a completely standardised procedures. Even the design of the casework became so uniform that they looked almost identical. Generally the whole organ would sit on the front of the gallery, usually in two tiers, Hoofdwerk with Bovenwerk above. The Pedaal would normally be placed behind, with the bellows positioned behind the upper manual. The console would be placed on one side. The two instruments at Saaxumhuizen and Usquert are good examples of this kind.
    It should be said that both in quantity and quality Petrus van Oecklen belongs amongst the best Dutch organ builders of the 19th century. Although his work, just like that of many of his contemporaries was either ignored or looked down upon during the 20th century, since all attention was focused on the Barock period of organ construction. Now, with the benefit of time, as we move further away from the period in which he lived, his work is finally receiving the attention and admiration it deserves. His instruments have now proven their quality and durability during the last 150 years, and the sound also offers much for the ear to appreciate. Special mention should be given to Van Oecklen's Viola di Gamba, one of the specialities of the house, which in its day was highly praised, and which is once more commanding considerable attention amongst players and lovers of the organ.
    If you're visiting the Netherlands, do go and check some of these instruments out, you won't be disappointed.

With best wishes,


Miscellaneous & Suggestions / Re: Is this forum dead? Is the organ dead?
« on: January 30, 2018, 11:20:12 PM »
Hi everyone!
Sorry I haven't been around for a while but like David Wyld has said, there is often times when organ builders have to get on and make a living. My time lately, before Christmas has been totally taken up with tuning. After that, I've been away in the Netherlands for Christmas and the new year, spending time with my family and friends over there. Consequently, I've not had any time to visit this forum but I'm hoping that over the next few months I will be able to rectify the situation.
       As to the question posed here........ No, the organ is not dead, it will never be dead. It is a musical instrument, it assumes its own purpose, through the hearts and minds of it's performers and listeners. You must remember that the organ, in the beginning was only installed in a church because it was the only building large enough to accommodate it.. As time moved on this incredible instrument was found a place in the liturgy, but only after a long and complicated argument about whether it was deemed suitable to be in a building dedicated to the gospels and the teaching of the Christian church. Eventually, after it was realised that the organ was indispensable to lead the singing of the congregation, starting from around 1640 onwards on the continent and I'm sorry to say, very much later in England, it's existence was assured..
       Now, during this present age in many churches are replacing guitars for gedackts and mixtures for mouth organs,  it might seem that the King of Instruments might well have had its day, but it really doesn't matter in the long run. This age of "happy clapper" nonsense will one day soon outlive it's sell by date. The reason for this, in my mind is that the average person, whether they be old or young, , rich or poor is searching for a reason as to why they exist, spinning around on this reletively small planet out in the middle of God only knows where. Not any amount of this kind of superficial claptrap will ever give any answer to their questions. Therefore, they must at sometime realise this, if they have any brain at all and start once again to research the higher aspects of existence......oh,but now I'm getting sidetracked.

The organ, whatever happens to religion in the next 1000 years or whenever, will survive simply because it is. It is the greatest musical instrument ever conceived by human beings, not only because of its incredible voice, but also because of its technical innovations that were started long before anything else. Organ builders in the 17th century were held in the same esteem as rocket scientists might be today. As long as there are people who love music on this earth, the organ will always be there, whatever happens with religion.

Sorry, I'm thinking all this as I write so once again I'm getting of topic!

As promised, I'll do some more writing on some of the great organ builders of history, including the family Stumm, as I've now retrieved my notes from my daughter. I also hope to provide some insight into some fascinating instruments that have been built over the last 400 years that I've been privileged to study and play.

Until then, best wishes from


Organ History / Utrecht Cathedral
« on: August 14, 2017, 11:25:31 AM »
I promised earlier to say something about this wonderful instrument, so firstly, the tonal disposition as it stands today;


Prestant 8
Holpyp 8
Quintadeen 8
Octaaf 4
Roerfluit 4
Quint 3
Octaaf 2
Fluit 2
Cornet (disk)
Mixtuur 3-6 sterk
Scherp 3-4 sterk
Trompet 8
Touzyn 8 (bas/disk)


Prestant 16
Bourdon 16
Octaaf 8
Roerfluit 8
Octaaf 4
Gemshoorn 4
Quint 3
Octaaf 2
Woudfluit 2
Sexquialter 2 sterk  (disk)
Mixtuur 6-8 sterk  (bas/disk)
Fagot 16
Trompet 8


Prestant 8
Baarpyp 8
Viola de Gamba 8
Holpyp 8
Fluit travers 8
Octaaf 4
Openfluit 4
Roerquint 3
Woudfluit 2
Flageolet 1
Carillion 3 sterk  (f)
Trompet 8
Vox Humana 8


Prestant 16
Subbas 16
Octaafbas 8
Fluitbas 8
Roerquint 6
Octaaf 4
Mixtuur 4 sterk
Bazuin 16
Trombone 8
Trompet 4
Cinq 2




C-f'''  (54-Man)
C-d'  (27-Ped)




Ventiel  (emptied organ of wind  - now redundan)
Kalkanteklok. (Bellows signal - now redundant)

50 Register

The present organ in the Domkerk  (St Martin) in Utrecht incorporates parts of an earlier organ, built by Pieter Janszoon de Swart between 1569-1571. From this famous and very capable builder, six stops on the Rugwerk, three on the Bovenwerk and two on the Pedaal still remain in the instrument virtually unaltered, most notably the plenum formed by the Octaaf 4, Quint 3, Octaaf 2, and the Mixtuur and Scherp, located in the Rugwerk are from De Swart. In manufacture as well as sound quality these pipes are the best in the organ. However, due to the usual short compass of instruments constructed in the 16th century, these very old pipes are in the compass of F, G, A  - a'', the remainder of each rank being extended and made new in either 1640  (Van Hagerbeer), 1709  (Duytschot), or in 1831.

The Batz organ company was active for four generations. In 1739, Johann Heinrich Hartmann Batz set himself up as an organ builder in Utrecht, having learnt the trade from Christiaan Muller. After his death in 1770 his younger brother looked after the firm until Johann's young 21 year old son, Gideon Thomas Bath  (1751-1820) was experienced enough to take over running the company in 1772. However, the organ builder we are dealing with here comes from the next, or third generation, Jonothan Batz  (1787-1849) who was Gideon's son. In 1833 he took on a partner, Christian Gottlieb FiFriederich Witte (1802-1873, who had been apprenticed to Baethmann in Germany, but on completion of his training moved to Utrecht and started to work for Jonothan Batz in 1824. After the death of Jonothan in 1849, Witte became the sole owner of the firm but he kept the name of Batz & Co. Once again, the company become very prosperous and was building many good organs throughout the country. Utrecht is of course, conveniently situated as it is right in the centre of the Netherlands. The Batz company survived for one more generation through Christian's son, Johann Frederick Witte  (1840-1902) who succeeded his father in 1873. However, as he had no son and heir to take over the business, the company was bought and taken over by another organ building company, De Koff in 1902 after he died.

The Utrecht Domkerk organ, as seen today was newly built by Jonothan Batz in 1831, although several old ranks of pipes as mentioned above were reused in the new instrument. The organ precisely conforms to the type of instrument that was being built in the Netherlands throughout the 19th century. The church architect, Tieleman Franciscus Suys, who came from Brussels, designed the case and ornaments, as well as constructing a small building at the back of the church to house the nine wedge-shaped bellows. The case is in a kind of neo-classical style, although in size and proportion  (the length of many of the front pipes are far longer than what is required for the pitch needed ), not strictly functional. Nevertheless, this style became somewhat popular, because another organ which was built along the same lines by the same architect and builder was completed at the Amsterdam Ronde Lutherse Kerk in 1843, although somewhat smaller in size and propotion.

The organ in the Domkerk itself has been superbly designedinternally so that every pipe and each division, with all of its parts can be easily accessed for maintenance and tuning, which was very favourably commented on by probably the greatest organ builder of the 19th century, Aristide Cavaille'-Coll  (1811-1899),about the spacious internal layout during a visit he made here in November 1844.

In 1865, the Batz company, which by then had been fully taken over by Witte, removed the Sexquialter on the Hoofdwerk and replaced it with a mounted treble Cornet of 5 ranks. Then in 1895, after a further overhaul, the same company revoiced all the reeds, in line with the heavier sound preferred at that time.
During the years between 1911-1935, the Touzyn 8 and the Fluit 2 on the Rugwerk were removed in favour of more romantic-sounding stops. The Hoofdwerk Trompet 8 was completely replaced, as well as the Gemshoorn 4 and Woudfluit 2. Then finally, in 1935, a swell-box was fitted to enclose the entire Bovenwerk, with its Roerquint 3 and Vox Humana 8 also being replaced by other more "up-to-date* stops. This was also the time when the outside bellows chamber was demolished, as was considered to be out of keeping with the rest of the gothic building, and so instead, a rudimentary, improvised wind supply was incorporated into the relatively shallow organ case itself, which to say the least was hardly adequate.

The organ finally underwent an extensive restoration between 1972-73 by the firm of Van Vulpen, who are recognised as the most experienced in the maintenance and restoration of Batz organs. They replaced all the stops that had been removed over the last 107 years, and a new modern wind supply with internal regulators was built within the main case, because there was nowhere outside to house a bellows chamber based on a nine wedge-shaped bellows system as originally constructed. The only concession to later times that was retained was the swell-box, which had enclosed the Bovenwerk pipework since 1935 as it had proved to be a useful addition for accompaniment purposes on many occasions.

The organ today is widely acclaimed for its mild tone and expessive tremulants which makes the instrument far more suitable for the late romantic or modern periods of composition, rather than for the strict Baroque counterpoint or fugal music of Buxtehude and Bach.

The building itself is vast, really generous in space. However, it is only a fraction of its original size. The nave and side aisles were completely destroyed during a great storm in the late 17th century, so only the transepts, the choir and high altar remain, along with the great west-end tower, now separate and around 100 metres from the rest of the building.

With best wishes,

House Organs / Re: Baron Albert de L'Espee
« on: June 03, 2017, 07:20:09 PM »
[Hi David,
Yes, I was also amazed when I first heard about him and I will try to find out more about him if I can. However, he does seem to be a difficult man to track down. I've tried to find a portrait or a photo of him, it would be great if one existed of him playing one of his organs.  By what I've already found out about him,  it would appear that he was a painfully shy man so despite his obvious wealth might never had consented to such a intrusion into his own closeted world, but I'm still hoping that there maybe such a picture of him somewhere.
As to your two pictures, the lower one is the first organ that he had installed at Biarritz. The upper picture which I hadn't seen before must be of the second instrument installed in the mansion after he could find no buyer for it but couldn't bear to be without an organ to play the Ride of the Valkyries or other such Wagnervarian offerings. Incidentally, I would love to know what publications of Wagner's works that were transcribed for the organ and who transcribed them.  My first thought was Sigfrid Karg-Elert but of course I quickly realised that he would have been far too young for the period we are dealing with here.
Anyway, I'll try to get more information about our favourite Baron if and when I can.  I must admit that I have been  totally intrigued by this guy and that he's the most wonderful personally Ive found in the world of the organ for a very long time.

With best wishes

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