Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2009
New organ in historical style
Organ built by:
Neubau in Anlehnung an den Baustil von Joseph Bossard, 1721
Windchests: slider chests
Key action: mechanical
Stop action: mechanical
Expert: François Seydoux
Case design: Uwe Schacht
Voicing: Rudolf Aebischer
© pictures Orgelbau Kuhn AG, Männedorf
portrait number 114140
|Ehemalige Abteikirche, Hauptorgel
| Immersion in late Baroque art and craft
Did you ever imagine how it would feel to live in another era? For example in the time of Ancient Rome, in the Middle Ages or in the Baroque Period? An exciting thought experiment. To the organ builders of our restoration department these thoughts became reality. Active immersion in the late Baroque period, in the life and work of past master Joseph Bossard (1665 - 1748), was the motto of a special project: the authentic reproduction of the vanished Bossard organ in the former Premonstratensian abbey of Bellelay dating from 1721.
Feel the importance of Bossard's work
The term of reference for the historicizing construction of a new organ were, without exaggerating, truly unique: Not only was the style and concept of Bossard to be reconstructed, but we wanted to feel the importance of his work. To gain a realistic relation to the treatment of materials back then, we used old art and craft techniques including the corresponding tools. In the family of our own organ builder, Werner Zehaczek, these were passed on from generation to generation. He has great respect for the art and craft of the past masters, says Zehaczek. He has learned a lot during his work in Bellelay.
From the silhouette to the instrument
Among the indications of the vanished organ, the most mysterious trace was the silhouette of the instrument. It was branded into the east wall of the room like a memorial, and seemed to express the desire for its rebirth. Our team of six under the expert direction of Wolfgang Rehn, managing director of the restoration department, accepted this task with enthusiasm. Besides parts of the pipe shade, which were stored in the museum of La Chaux-de-Fonds, we were also in possession of the original specification. It was found completely written down in the Silbermann archive. Altogether, we could profit from our exact knowledge of Bossard's features which we were able to study in every detail during the restoration of the organ in Sankt Urban in the canton of Lucerne in 1993. Moreover, the whole team visited other Bossard organs to prepare for the restoration and determine the details of its execution.
Like Bossard's assistants
Working out the characteristic construction features was an incredible pleasure according to Christoph Bettler. Noticeably proud of the brilliant result, he adds smilingly: «Sometimes I felt we could be Bossard's assistants.» Robert Kleine was charged to draw the blueprint. «To discover the work of a master of the 18th century and to integrate the features of his work into the technical planning was an appealing and extraordinary challenge.» Bossard's style could only partially be represented in a drawing, he adds modestly, and emphasises «that, to be successful with this project, it was important to consider all aspects of organ building.» For the decision-making the opinion of the carpenters for the case and the metal pipe makers was as important as that of the organ builders and designers.
To Wolfgang Rehn, the new «Kuhn organ in Bossard's style» is one of the creative highlights of his career: «With this project we were able for the first time to apply the restoration practice we had acquired during the last decades to the construction of a new organ in the original style of the Baroque period. Such occasions are rare. In this sense, I consider the fascinating project also as a wonderful gift. My sincere thanks go to all involved, to the client, the team that accomplished an extraordinary work, and all those who contributed with their enthusiasm to the rebirth of the organ of Bellelay.»
In fact, the atmosphere and the intensity of this experience were so strong that some became poetically inspired. Jörg Maurer describes the process of the cautious approach to the «vanished» as follows: «Not yet, it develops slowly, shows another face again. We come back time and again. It holds steady ... We are discovering a hidden treasure.»
Technical details concerning construction features and voicing
Among the most typical construction features of Bossard are:
- the scaling and pipe construction,
- sponselled windchests made of walnut,
- valve dimensions and shapes,
- wooden pipes with tin labia,
- wedge bellows with several folds,
- pumping pedal system,
- the construction of ladders and stairs,
- simple barrage of the case's side panels with planks, and
tracker details such as
- roller shapes,
- iron brackets on major axis,
- style of tracker wires.
Consistency and liberty at the same time
The former abbey of Bellelay is no longer used for liturgical purposes and there was no need to consider music for church services. Therefore, we were able to design the organ with greatest consistency concerning pitch, temperament, and compass including split keys. In designing the details, we had numerous possibilities in spite of strict parameters. The project also left room for artistic freedom. Finally, it is certainly not an original Bossard organ but an original «Kuhn organ in the style of Bossard».