Arts & Culture | Organ Builders | Early Baroque | Classical
Many of the famous German Baroque organs are what is known as Werkprinzip (‘department principle’) organs, built up of several separate ‘departments’ (i.e. a manual or pedal keyboard and its chest), all linked into the single console at which the organist plays.
This method of construction means that organs can be tailored to specific requirements and added to over the years. Often it is obvious from the instrument’s appearance that its final form is the result of several stages of building.
German Baroque organ builders such as the Fritzsche and Compenius families and Andreas Silbermann (1678–1734) and his brother Gottfried (1683–1753) increased the size and quality of the instrument and the variety of stops. Others, such as Eugen Casparini (1623–1706), also introduced novel stops such as bells and drums and visual effects such as angels playing trumpets. Gottfried Fritzsche (1578–1638), who worked as an apprentice on the organs of St Thomas’s and St Nicholas’s, Leipzig, was a friend of Michael Praetorius (c. 1571–1621), Schütz and Scheidt; and J. S. Bach obviously took a great interest in the splendid new organs being built at this time: he knew Gottfried Silbermann, and is thought to have travelled when a young man to Hamburg to hear Reincken play and to Lübeck to hear Buxtehude play.
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