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Bach’s Organs

OT: details of specific organs Bach played or evaluated

Bruce Simonson wrote (March 19, 2011):
Anyone know a resource that gives the specific details of organs that Bach played or was asked to evaluate? I'm looking for the number of ranks in these organs, and their dispositions (stop names, e.g.), and any other info at such level of detail.

But even a just a listing of the specific organs that Bach might have played or evaluated would be of help.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 19, 2011):
[To Bruce Simonson] I do and am currently writing book that will be profusely illustrated not only with diagrams and photographs of many of the instruments that Bach played but also stoplists along with some history of the instrument that he played or was responsible for being created or was the examining inspector of. I had hoped that you could provide some information here that I could quote and credit you with. I am currently searching for a publisher for this work ---anyone have any suggestions?

Evan Cortens wrote (March 19, 2011):
[To Bruce Simonson] Lynn Edwards Butler has an article on this topic in the forthcoming volume 3 of Keyboard Perspectives, published by the Westfield Center:

Arthur Robinson wrote (March 21, 2011):
[To Evan Cortens] Happy JSB's 326th birthday!

W. L. Sumner wrote a long article, with stop lists, for the Hinrichsen Music Book in the early 1950s, and this article was reprinted by "The American Organist" in December, 1985 (I think) with additions and corrections by Teri Noel Towe.

Also, didn't Christoph Wolff and a couple of his colleagues publish a book on the Bach organs a few years ago?

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 21, 2011):
[To Arthur Robinson] See also:
George Stauffer, J S Bach as Organist:

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 22, 2011):
The following is an except form page 30 of my manuscript JS. BACH CANTATAS---et al
The following is the stop list of the Thomaskirke as it was in 1722 when Bach was titular Organist and Kapelmeister.
Thomaskirke Organ of 1722

(Top Manual)
Principal 16
Gross Gedackt 8
Principal 8
Subbass 16
Principal 8
Principal 4
Lieblich Gedact 8
Posaune 16
Principal 4
Nachthorn 4
Klein Gedact 4
Trumpet 8
Principal 2
Gemshorn 2
Flauto traverso 4
Schalmei 4
Quint 2 2/3
Nazard 2 2/3
Sptizflute 4
Cornet 2 2/3
Sesquialtera II
Cymbel II
Violin 2
Regal 8
Schallflöte 1
Quintadena 16
Geigen Regal 4
Raushquinte II
Spillflöte 8
Mixture IV

10 Bellows with each a ventil pumped by 5-10 men

Krumhorn 16
Trumpet 8

For those how are not Organist and never played and Organ let alone seen a real one:

(the fake ones steal the sounds from real pipe organs and are like a piece of glass trying to pass for a million dollar diamond--the real sound is different and those electronic toasters can never duplicate the real trure sound of an Organ all they can do is play back a sound with less quality than a Hi Fi CD player or phonograph.) The following explanations are in order.

The names of the stops ---those are the knobs you see on consoles and are called stop jambs are the names of the sounds one may expect when these stops are playing The principal rank produces the sound that many stereotype as the Churchy sound of an Organ and are the very foundation of every Organ other than those designed for theatre use and pop music although they should be present on such instruments.. The Mixtures have Roman numeral numbering and provide dissonant sounds that are actually the harmonics of the Principal stops. They are needed to clear up an ensemble and provide clarity.

The Oberwerke manual, the Brustwerke and the Ruckpositive (located at the back of the Organist at the Balcony end represent the manuals on the Console and the divisions of the Organ. Each of these are an Organ unto themselves but are divided as seen here to make playing easier and provide far more variety of sounds than would be available otherwise.

One of the most irritating things with Organbuilders is that since the Romantic age they have been given to confusing nomenclature so that a Principal may not sound like you expect it too but could be more flutey in sounding. For this reason---in listing stoplists--translators should list the stop as listed and never try to translate Principal into Montre or Diapason as they sound differently although similarly. We can see from this stoplist ( which I have organized into families and not as they appeared on the console) that the Oberwerke was organized to foundations and flute stops with one string sounding stop (the Quintadena which has a strong 5th in its harmonics giving a broader sound) and Bach could obtain a synthesized similar clarinet sound by drawing the Spillflute and Sesquialtera. The Brust is organized on Flute sounds with Reeds. The Nazard re-enforces the reed sounds when drawn with the flutes. The Ruckpositiv (-f) is based on Flutes and Foundation stops with more variety of reed sounds that includes a Trumpet and a sound similar to a bass clarinet (or should). On the pedal, which is very modest for this time---we see that it is organized around reeds which are probably voiced to give a strong pedal definition to what is being played. The Subbass offers some relief from the reeds but we cannot be sure if this is a foundation stop or a flute stop sounds similar to modern Bourdons or most likely the builder used the Gedackt for this name.

The Organ has some toys on it: the Vogelsang (which I failed to understand why this stop is here since sparrows regularly invade Thomaskirke). The Volgelsang is nothing more than two pipes or one pipe submerged into a bowl of water giving a chirping sound when sounded. It is a luxury stop. The Cymbelstern comes in various versions: 3-12 bells that are cupped shaped like often found on bicycles or tower bell shaped In Bach's organs they were usually the lesser in number and were attached to a rotating star which the parishioners could see while it played. It was specifically used at Christmas time.

The Thomaskirke Organ had 10 bellows that required 5-to 10 men to pump them to supply compressed air to the Organ which in some cases represented a financial liability unless volunteers were used.. It is likely that Bach used a Pedal Harpsichord to practice on to keep down the expense of having to call in pumpers for the times he wanted to practice or play. Today this is no problem as the Thomaskirke now has electric blowers. Germany is one of the world leaders in the manufacture of Organ blowers. The Organ of Thomaskirke has a history of problems most of which can be traced down to not keeping the humidity and temperature at stable lever. Air leaks occurred because of wood shrinkage and expansion and today many of the organist that were cheaply built in this time now are suffering the loss of their pipes because of lead pipes were used for the much more expensive Cornish tin of that time which had to be imported from England. Tin has always been somewhat expensive and there are no longer mines in the UK or the US producing Tin. The last US tin operable tin mine was near Rock Hill, South Carolina and closed circa 1960. Most tin today comes from Indonesia and Papua, New Guinea and is primarily used in making ammunition, toothpaste along with high quality Organ pipes. The tin alloy used for Organ Pipes should never be less than 50% and higher Tin content is preferable for not only health reasons buenvironmentalal reasons---and it is the tin content of pipe metal that makes New Organs so expensive these days.

Evan Cortens wrote (March 22, 2011):
Ludwig wrote:
< The following is an except form page 30 of my manuscript JS. BACH CANTATAS---et al
The following is the stop list of the Thomaskirke as it was in 1722 when Bach was titular Organist and Kapelmeister.
TOrgan of 1722 >
,Thanks very much for this disposition, however, in pasting into the email, it seems to have come out as a straight list, making it impossible to see to which division the stops belong. I wonder if would be possible to link a PDF, say? (I imagine Aryeh might even find this a very useful addition to the BCW?)

Also, quick question: do you know where this stop list comes from?
Adlung's Musica mechanica organoedi, perhaps?

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 22, 2011):
[To Evan Cortens] I have had this problem before with Yahoo and actually did this in chart format---as that succeeded in the past. I am using Explorer browser and if you are not that could be the problem. I will try to send again as PDF as time allows. Perhaps I should have sent it using google.

I would like to add that Bach's favorite builder was NOT Silberman as has been touted so often in the past. His favorite builder was Schnitger whose organs he greatly admired and also usually had a 32' stop on them (folks for you to hear this or get the feeling of it on your sound systems--you are going to be able to have sub-woofers that can go down to 16 hz and preferably 8 hz). Schnitger did business in the North and in Holland and Denmark. Silbernman operated mostly in Southern Germany. Most of his Organs are no longer in existence and those which are; are his mostly in name only as successive generations have changed them beyond what they were alike originally. Only one has remained exactly as he left it and it remained so because Silberman's employees maintained against Silberman's orders after Silberman and authorities got into a fight about it. Also the fact that Silbermans shop was almost next door made it easy to sneak over to work on
without Silberman's apparent knowledge.

Schnitger's organs, on the other hand have mostly survived. almost intact as he built them, except those he was on his hands and knees begging for the contract and used cheap materials to build them simply becaus the Church could not afford to pay for top quality work. In many instances, Schnitger gave parish churches organs mostly out of his own pocket and many of these still survive. Schnitger was something like he Henry Ford of the Organbuilding world of his day. Most of the Organs that Schnitger had anything to do with that Bach had something to do with were remodels of older work. In a rare few cases, he built an entirely new organ which Bach not only played but was consultant on.

Use the stoplists that I sent or will in pdf as a registration guide to playing Bach's Organ Works.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 22, 2011):
Thomaskirke Organ et al.[was: OT: details of specific organs Bach played or evaluated]

Thomaskirke had an organ as early as 1356. It was one headache after another and certainly won no favors being almost constantly repaired. (Hmm sounds like an incompetent amateur built it). IT was replaced in the 1400s by another instrument which you can find the stoplist for on page 180 of original book by Michael Praetorius--- teh Syntagma Musicum ---et al of which the original is available online from the German National Library in Berlin as are other such rare books and manuscripts. Supposedly there are modern reprints but I have not been able to find them. Although this instrument was much more satisfactory than the one it replaced ---it too was replaced. This time Bach had a hand in its design and recommnendation in 1722. This is one of the few Organ stoplists that Bach designed that does not include a 32 rank and perhaps that is because the Church could not afford it or there was just not room for it. Today, the Thomaskirke Organ is well over or near 100 stops and one of the largest Organs in Germany and may have the beloved 32' Principal and Posaune ranks that Bach was fond of but never had on most of the Organs he was full time Organist of.The Thomaskirke Organ remained much as it was and according to Bach's design and had built until the late 1800s as when because of poor maintenance it began giving problems and it was replaced with the fad of the age ---high pressure stops that hooted, blasting reeds and unifications and a toy counter---all the elements that the theatre organs of the movie palaces of the 1920s were noted for and an instrument that was not appropriate for worship but more for entertainment. This fad soon became tiresome and the Church again began to reconsider a new Organ that was more appropriate to worship and to the honor of its famous organist. Stoplists were drawn up in the 1920s for a new Organ according to what Bacn might have designed and finally implemented circa the late 1950s and early 1960s when E. Power Biggs recorded it as it was then. It is my understanding that since the other changes have been made by Jahn(?) who also restored the St, Jacobi Organ in Hamburg of Schnitger's. Thie Hamburg Organ is exactly as Schnitger left it and while Hamburg was bombed and burned almost to the ground during WWII--the Organ survived because it had been taken down and protected. The Organ at St. Katherine's Church where bach also played was not so fortunate---it sustained some damage when a bomb came through the roof but nevertheless it is still almost as it was in Bach's Time.

Organs of the Baoque Age in Germany and particularly in Southern Germany had toy counters that ususally consisted of a Vogelsang, Drum, and a Cymbelstern. Sometimes the Organ was connected to by cranks et al with the bells in the tower One can see the decay of the Organbuilding beginning this early that finally took place with the advent of electric blowers and nicked pipes---thanks to the efforts of Hope Jones in Britain. Fortunately a counter movement began also in England to return to the music of the past led by that recorder (sic) guy.

Bruce Simonson wrote (March 25, 2011):
A marvelous group, this. I feel very lucky to have access to such knowledgable folks.

To summarize this thread (to date), several resources were recommended both on and offline:

J S Bach as Organist, by George Stauffer

Leipzig's Organs in the Time of Bach, by Lynn Edwards Butler in Keyboard Perspectives, v3, recently published by the Westfield Center

American Organist, 1985, article by W. L. Sumner

The Organ Music of J. S. Bach, vol. 3, by Peter Williams, esp chapters 16-17

Musica mechanica organoedi (1768), and Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit (1758), by Jakob Adlung

(Some of these are available online, and I've ordered others, as well as some other material, and am waiting for their arrival.)

BTW, in:

Oxford Composer Companion: J.S. Bach (Oxford Composer Companions) (ed Malcolm Boyd)

I found the entry for "organ" helpful. In addition to good general material, it includes several organ stop lists particularly relevant to Bach, and his time and place.

And it turns out that at least two individuals are very close to publishing books on this very matter. It's in the water, I guess.

Probably room for an article or two in the Bach Cantatas website on this topic, should anyone care to author one.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 25, 2011):
Ludwig wrote:
< Flutes and Foundation stops with more variety of reed sounds that includes a Trumpet and a sound similar to a bass clarinet (or should). >
Bass clarinet stop? I will check that out. My aural reference is Eric Dolphy playing with John Coltrane. Organ stops to match?

< today many of the organist that were cheaply built in this time now are suffering the loss of their pipes because of lead pipes were used for the much more expensive Cornish tin of that time which had to be imported from England. >
I can accept that the lead to tin proportions affect subtleties of sound, but I do not understand the relation to durability. Is it because of the relative softness of lead?

I do not think that Cornwall is the only source of acceptable tin in the world, today.

Aryeh Oron wrote (March 26, 2011):
Since many of you have asked for it, I created a pagein the section of Bach Tour on the BCW with a list of the organs in places associated with Bach.
The links in the column "Organ" are to PDF files with the Organ dispositions.
Bach Reports on organs he examined are linked from the column "Bach Connection".
Photos of the organs can be found in the photo pages of each place. The places are linked from the left column.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 26, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] Wir danken dir, Areyh!

I don't think I've ever seen all the information compiled in one list before. It's an extraordinary testament to Bach's career as recitalist and consultant. That's a LOT of travel!

Henner Schwerk wrote (March 26, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for list of organs. There is one very interesting in the Leipzig Nicolaikirche missing:

The big Ladegast organ has been renewed some years ago by the organ builder Eule (Bautzen). This instrument is very interesting for many reasons; one is the fact that Porsche has not only given very much money for the project, Porsche has designed the console of the organ. I played it last year on a concert trip. Unfortunately I do not own a Porsche, but the Console really looks like a Porsche from the inside and driving a Porsche can not be more fun than to play this Instrument!

Google the Instrument, you will enjoy ist!

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 26, 2011):
Henner Schwerk wrote:
< Unfortunately I do not own a Porsche, but the Console really looks like a Porsche from the inside and driving a Porsche can not be more fun than to play this Instrument! >
I now have a mental image of Bach in sunglasses speeding along the autobahn in a Porsch with Anna Magdalena's hair blowing in the wind.

Bruce Simonson wrote (March 28, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you Aryeh. Splendid work on the Bach organ webpage.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 28, 2011):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Thank you Aryeh. Splendid work on the Bach organ webpage. >
Thanks seconded!

Of related interest, see this review from the BCW archives:

William Porter also has a recent (2008) release on Loft label, recorded on the restored Hildebrand organ at Sturmthal. The dedication of that organ in 1723 was the event for which Bach prepared and performed the festival version of this weeks cantata, BWV 194. I have not yet heard the CD, but the program notes available on-line suggest that the recording is the prelude to a planned installation of a replica of this restored organ for Cambridge MA, USA. I will try to follow up with further information.

Evan Cortens wrote (March 28, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] Should any on the list be interested, here is a link to the recording Ed mentions:

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 28, 2011):
[To Evan Cortens] Thanks, Evan, it was awkward for me to recover that link while already writing eMail. Note that the link is correct, although it appears to contain a typo: St_rmthal for Störmthal, with umlaut. Note also that I have misspelled it from memory as Sturmthal a couple times, hereby corrected.


Thomaskirke Organ of 1722 as Bach played it.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (April 8, 2011):
Unfortunately jpg and other types of documents get scrambled when sent by 'normal' methods as straight enail. I had a number of requests for pdf format and this is it for those of you that the stoplist got scrambled. I have been away and apologize for the delay but here it is.

You will note on the stoplist that there is a Vogelsang which is there probably as a fun thing and not for serious music and the origins of such stops are said to be from Southern Germany. The Vogelsang usually consists of one or two rarely three organ pipes dipped in a bowl of water in such a manner that the sound produced is a chirping sort of sound. When I was a child, one could buy these as plastic toys at the local Five and Dime. Thomaskirke at various times did not need a Vogelsang as sparrows entered the Church as a captive audience chirping in the rafters as we hear in an unedited lp of an E.P. Biggs recording made at the Thomaskirke circa 1969. The Organ has since been redone again.

Sadly there is no Posaune 32' or Principal 32' in the orginal instrument which Bach himself took part in its tonal design--perhaps that is because of the great expense and there was not enough room vertically or horizonally to place a 16 inch diameter (41 cm) pipe (largest pipe of a 32' Principal)---two stops that were cherished by Bach in the Organs that had these stops--especially in the Organs of Hamburg that Schnitger either built or redid/repaired. The 32' pitch is at 16 cycles per second which is about as low as the human ear can hear and most people only feel this sound but it does great things to the harmonic structure that they are used with. This is one thing that modern electronics barely can produce well if at all in most cases.

The Cymbelstern consists of a series of little bells, that usually number from 2 to 12, played randomly or on note demand and tuned the a particular note--- to which a rotating star is attached upon top (usually) of one of the pipe Towers. It was primarily used at Christmas time. Bach specifically calls for it in his verision of "Good men rejoice rejoice with hearts----"

Each these stops have as different type of sound, and often function just as the Clarinet of the Orchestra sounds differently from the Violin. The Violin stop in the Organ does not sound like the Violin of the Orchestra and is not intended to be an exact reproduction but to have almost the same harmonic structure. Likewise the Trumpet does not sound like a trumpet found in the orchestra. There are some very close approxiations (Such as the Aeolian-Skininer Organ Company's State Trumpet 8 at heard at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York), however. Mixtures designated by Roman numerals are made of of mutation ranks (usually high pitched (although that may clash dissonantly with each other. The function of these ranks is to help natural synthesises of sounds (example Sesquialtera II+Rhorflote 8'= a clarinet type sound), to clarify sounds, the ensemble and lighten it so that it does not sound muddy--a fault of many modern organs particular of the Theatre Organ type and French Romantic Organs played by pseudo-organists who do not understand how to registered ("orchestrate") the stops so that they do not produce a muddy sound. This sort of tonal design was started by organbuilder Cavaille-Coll whose tonal theories stated that mixtures were not necessary in a properly voiced ensemble to which the Electrical Engineer Hope Jones spelled disaster and ruination of bending Cavaille-Colls theories his way.

The divisions of the Organ usually different functions in volume with the Hauptwerke being usually the loudest and chief division with all other divisions coupled to it and it then being coupled to the pedal so that the pedal can play the entire organ with the Hautwerke being able to play everything else together with its division. The Brustwerke--usually consists of small high pitched ranks and is the primitive form of the modern day Swell. To play quietly, the doors in front of the Brust were simply shut or opened for the loudest it could play ---with no in between as the modern Swell division offfers. The Ruckpositive was located at the back of the Organist and reinforced the forces found on the Hauptwerke as well as provided stops suitable for accompaniement of choruses and other ensemble groups. The Pedal plays the bass and continuo lines of a work and also accompanies other music.It is played with the feet and as many as four or 5 rarely 6 notes at a time can be layed on it--it cabe very soft and gentle or it can be bold and dominating as in many of the Toccatas of the French School or various works of Bach in which the Pedal takes a Cantus. Virgil Fox's teacher Middleschute composed a tour de force work using Bach's Pedal Excercitum (sp?) that is extreamly difficult and demands duple,truple and quadruple pedaling. Virgil often played this work during his Heavy Organ Concert series.

The Organ is a giant natural synthesizer that can produce sounds that are difficult to impossible to produce otherwise even in the most sophisticated and advanced electoronic sound labs of today. The sound of an Organ has a warmth to it that its fake imitators, (which are like a cheap piece of cut glass imitating a million dollar diamond) can never successfully fully imitate. The sound of electronics is dry and cold and the sound of a real pipe organ wraps a warmth around you that is difficult if at all to describe. The Organ is a breathing living thing when operable while the electronic is just a collection of wires and other miscellanea that at best is little more than a phonograph player.


Hildebrandt organ at Stormthal [was: Bach's face?]

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 22, 2011):
Arthur Robinson wrote:
< A visit to the Dorfkirche in Störmthal to hear the little Hildebrandt organ there provoked a similar reaction. >
A few weeks ago, I noted a recent recording on this organ by William Porter on Loft label (LRCD-1086). Evan Cortens provided a direct link (which I do not have at hand at the moment) to the CD booklet notes, which are readily avaiable online.

William Porter writes: <in choosing the works for this CD, it seemed better not to provide a program focused on preludes and fugues, which would of necessity point toward a recording of plenum (full organ) registrations, but rather to choose from among the various chorale settings, familiar and unfamiliar, that would allow one to explore the remarkable richness of color available at Störmthal, by playing on single registers and with combinations of two or three stops.
The three *free* works included here form a frame for the chorale settings, and with the excerption of the Fantasia in C, further present the organs plenum capabilities.> (end quote)

Good listening, and perhaps of especial interest to those interested in hisoric aspects of the organ, which Bach dedicated in 1723. As if he did not have enough to keep himself busy in Leipzig!

Peter Smaill wrote (April 22, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski ] Störmthal is a delight to visit; a tiny church, and one which confirms that the very long Cantata "Höchterwünschtes Freudenfest" BWV 194 could only have been performed by OVPP plus a few instrumentalists, the church no doubt packed for the dedication and coaches being hired for the singers and small orchestra. It is just outside Leipzig, and was (horrible to relate) nearly demolished 20 years ago due to strip mining of lignite under the old communist DDR.

My source is the amazing 1665 page long "Les Cantates de J-S Bach" by Gilles Cantagrel:

"À fin de l' éxistence de la République démocratique allemande, le ministere d'énergie de l'époque ayant découvert la possibilité d'exploiter à ciel ouvert des gisements de lignite au sud de Leipzig, a planifié la destruction systématique, l'un après l'autre, des villages de la contreé. Störmthal se voyant menacée, des pétitions se sont éleveés pour tenter d'épargner le village, et avec lui l'un de rares vestiges culturel du temps de Bach."

("At the end of the existence of the German Democratic Republic, the Minister of Energy of the time discovered the possibility of open-cast mining of the lignite seams to the south of Leipzig, and planned the systematic destruction, one after the other, of the villages standing above. Störmthal saw itself threatened, and petitions were raised to conserve the village, and with it one of the rarest cultural vestiges surviving relating to Bach's time." )

Cantagrel goes on to explain that the fall of the Berlin Wall fell exactly at the point when the village was due to be destroyed, thus saving the Hildebrandt organ, which was restored in 2007 (it had been restored in the 1930's which shows how barbaric the communists were, even in relation to the national socialists, especially given the communists' destruction of the University Neue Kirche in Leipzig in the 1970's ).

Mercifully the church and the delightful organ stands and is a pleasant outing from Leipzig. Hear it if you can; go, if possible, to see what might have been lost; and feel for the anguish and joy at the threats and deliverance involved in this special place: and all this in the lifetime of most of us......

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 22, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Störmthal is a delight to visit; ... It is just outside Leipzig, and was (horrible to relate) nearly demolished 20 years ago due to strip mining of lignite under the old communist DDR. >
The East Germans did demolish the St. Paul church in Leipzig: it's medieval altarpiece now hangs in St. Thomas.

Bruce Simonson wrote (April 22, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Störmthal is a delight to visit; a tiny church, and one which confirms that the very long Cantata "Höchterwünschtes Freudenfest" BWV 194 could only have been performed by OVPP plus a few instrumentalists, the church no doubt packed for the dedication and coaches being hired for the singers and small orchestra. It is just outside Leipzig, and was (horrible to relate) nearly demolished 20 years ago due to strip mining of lignite under the old communist DDR. >
This is a very interesting story, thank you Peter for passing it on. I was in Leipzig (and Berlin) in 1991, and was very discouraged to see how the former DDR treated some of its best heritage. For example, churches, of course, had no value as churches.

I also remember looking at the Bach statue outside of the Thomaskirche, and wondering who decided to leave one the buttons on Bach's waistcoat unbuttoned. Gave the appearance that this man was somewhat dissheveled, and perhaps a buffoon, without credibility ... and it bothered me. I couldn't help but think somehow that this art was intended as critical commentary on the church, since it was Bach, for god's sake, and right next to the Thomaskirche. (FWIW, in my world, you don't even have to be religious to be offended by this lack of sensitivity, particular if intentional.) And you sure didn't have to look very hard to see what the DDR did to churches in Berlin, to see their outrageous ridicule in play. (This still exercises me, after all these years. I could go on; suffice to say, my dad used to say, "We owe a lot to the widows of East Germany; they kept the church alive.").

But I digress; mainly I wanted to mention BWV 194. This work is one of the "bipartite" cantatas. Not hard to imagine in the context of a organ dedication service (play, talk, play). But BWV 194 shows up in 4 performances under Bach (three as parts of church services, if I read the history right). Four is almost a record! (SJP wins, I guess). I don't know this cantata, but I'm going to have to look 'er up.


Disposition of the Thomaskirche & Nikolaikirche organs around 1700 according to J. J. Vogel

Charles Francis wrote (Septem9, 2012):
Thomaskirche - Large Organ

III. Brustwerk:
Gedackt 8'
Regal 8'
PrincipaI 4'
Nachthorn 4'
Geigenregal 4'
Nasat 3'
Gemshorn 2'
Zimbel II

II. Oberwerk :
Principal 16'
Quintatön 16'
Principal 8'
Spielpfeife 8'
Octava 4'
Quinta 3'
Superoctava 2'
Sesquialtera II
Mixtur VI-IX

I. Rückpositiv:
Krumbhorn 16'
Principal 8'
Quintadena 8'
Lieblich Gedacktes 8'
Trommet 8'
Traversa 4'
Spitzflöte 4'
Gedackt 4'
Violin 2'
Schallflöt 1'
Rausch Quinta II
Mixtur IV

Sub Bass 16'
Posaunen 16'
Trommeten 8'
Schallmeyen 4'
Cornet 2'

Thomaskirche - Small Organ

III. Brustwerk:
Trichterregal 8'
Spitzflöte 2'
Sifflöt 1'

II. Oberwerk:
Principal 8'
Gedackt 8'
Quintatön 8'
Octave 4'
Rauschquinte II 3'
Mixtur IV-X
Cymbel II

I. Rückpositiv:
Lieblich Gedackt 8'
Dulcian 8'
Trompete 8'
Principal 4'
Hohlföte 4'
Nasat 3'
Octave 2'
Sesquialtera II

Subbass 16'
Fagott 16'
Trompete 8'

Nikolaikirche - Organ

III. Brustpositiv:
Quintathon 8'
Principal 4'
Schalmey 4'
Quinte 3'
Octava 2'
Mixtur III
Sesquialtera II

II. Oberwerk:
Quintaton 16'
Fagot 16'
Principal 8'
Gedact 8'
Gemshorn 8'
Trompete 8'
Octava 4'
Nazard 3'
Quinte 3'
Superoctava 2'
Waldflöte 2'
Mixtur VI

I. Rückwerk:
Gedact 8'
Bompart 8'
Principal 4'
Gemshorn 4'
Quintathon 4'
Viola di Gamba 4'
Nazard 3'
Octava 2'
Mixtur IV

Untersatz 16'
Posaunen 16'
Trompeten 8'
Octav 4'
Schallmeyen 4'
Cornet 2'

It's interesting to note that the Matthew Passion Cornet-Ton transpose at one point mentions "Rückposit: Sesquialtera". Note also the piano and forte markings therein. Wolff & Zepf suggest that Bach used the smaller organ in performances of multichoir works, e.g. BWV 243a with its Christmas interpolations, and in BWV 244 (1736) for the third choir in the first part's introductory and concluding choruses. With, both organs going and,
presumably, dispersed choirs, it must have sounded magnificent!

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 9, 2012):
[To Charles Francis] The known specs of the organs in all the churches associated with J.S. Bach are presented on the BCW at:


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Last update: ýJanuary 1, 2013 ý08:22:11