Friday, 18 February 2011

Interesting Challenge ...

Our new church in Wiesbaden has a very interesting pipe organ located on the gallery at the back of the church. There is only one snag, it has not been played since 1986 as it needed major renovation then and probably even more so now. It was installed in the church, new, in 1901, by a builder then based in Biebrich, now a suburb of Wiesbaden, on the banks of the Rhine. The Schloss Biebrich is a fabulous Baroque edifice built for the Dukes of Nassau.

The organ was damaged in WW2, though not terminally, and restored by another organ builder, from Frankfurt am Main, in the early 1950s, but this appears to have been little more than a good clean, retuning and repairs to the bellows and re-felting of the wind chests. It is a great pity that it has not been preserved - in 1986 the church had to undergo a renovation that was far more extensive than the congregation had cash for and the organ was replaced by an electric version, with the speakers for it being inserted rather clumsily into the organ case. The photographs don't show electrical cables - these are metal tubes for the pneumatic action, one of the reasons this will be a challenge to restore!

Looking at the specification and having looked at the pipes inside and the wind chests, it would be well worth restoring the instrument. It has some unique stops on it, and the older members of the congregation recall that it was a very good sound, much admired by those who had occasion to play it. So we have a challenge before us. There is a desire to restore it, but the cost will be high. Even so, it will be worth doing. In it's favour are the following -

- it was well constructed in the first instance and is still largely intact,
- it has a minimal case, and the sound from it is focussed in the upper volume of the church (Which has a good acoustic as well),
- the playing 'action' appears to be an unmodified 'pneumatic' mechanism, in itself worthy of preservation,
- the instrument is of historic as well as musical interest and should be preserved.

So now the challenge is this. We have to find the funds to do the restoration and we have to find a builder willing to undertake what will, I suspect, be quite a challenge to get the original action back into working order.

Should keep me busy for the next few years...

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