Main case: base with view of the Brustwerk

Andreas Werckmeister’s expert report

The composition of this organ is known from two further sources. The first came from Michael Praetorius himself, when he described the main instruments in Germany in his theoretical work the “Syntagma musica”. The second comes from an expert’s report carried out in 1704 by Andreas Werckmeister, the important theoretician and organist of the Martinikirche in Halberstadt. This report was commissioned by king Frederick I. of Prussia because after functioning for a century the organ had begun to deteriorate. Dust had got into the instrument and the larger pipes were beginning to buckle. That is no wonder, after the death of the Duke in the year 1613 and during the Thirty Years War the castle including organ had lost its function and was only considered as tourist-attraction. Therefore is a large part of the registered “Defecta” by Werckmeister the consequence of decades-long negligence.

In conclusion it seems that the instrument of 1596 was to a synthesis of the artistic expression of the moment, as much for its tonal concept and decoration as well as a move towards the Baroque. With its very rich composition it brought together all the stops and timbres invented since the medieval period. This could explain the desire to place 59 stops in an instrument intended to sound in a relatively small space. With soft and delicate voicing obtained with moderate wind pressure this organ was probably conceived as a very large chamber instrument similar to the smaller “Compenius-organ” at the castle Hessen. It was not really the question of power, more of the quality and diversity if timbres. It is certain, that Andreas Werckmeister a century later could not understand the meaning of such an instrument and felt it should be altered.

Source: Jean-Charles Ablitzer - The David Beck Organ of the Castle Chapel in Gröningen

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