In view of the ways in which different musical styles are received today, the building of a new organ poses a huge challenge. How should a new instrument, on which you are hoping to play ancient, contemporary, or even avant-garde music, look and sound? To this question there is no single correct answer.
Whenever we receive an assignment, we carefully weigh the requirements and circumstances, and then get down to the business of searching for, drawing up and, where otherwise impossible, hammering out the best possible solution. This cannot always be achieved without some kind of compromise or, in some cases, even sacrifice. Here, our wide-ranging experience helps us to find the ideal way of satisfying often conflicting expectations. Restorations give us good reasons for incorporating certain ideas in new organs and equally good reasons for rejecting others. Many years of intense involvement are the basis for both the quality and stylistic diversity of the House of Kuhn.
We design each of our organs in such a way that it not only appeals from an artistic and technical point of view but also combines first-class craftsmanship and acoustic qualities. Turning our ideals into practice demands not only a high level of professionalism but also a great deal of persistence from us all if we are not to lose sight of our ambitious goals, particularly during the more difficult phases of the project. At these times, we can draw on the enthusiasm and extensive ta-lents of our employees as well as the collective experience of the entire company. Eschewing industrial production techniques, our various teams determine the creation of an organ from A to Z.
In order to build instruments that fulfil the most exacting demands, we rely as much as possible on products we have manufactured ourselves. Because only in this way can we be sure of giving expression to the uniqueness of every single piece. This has its price, certainly, but also its reward: a hand-crafted instrument, perfect in every technical and artistic detail, on which we offer a ten-year guarantee. An organ whose tones will touch the hearts of those who hear it and, over the years, fill countless people with joy and, dare we say, a certain awe and respect.
Since its beginnings, Kuhn has not only been open to the «Orgelbewegung» but also cultivated the symphonic organ and, with it, the culture of Romantic strings, overblowing flutes and French-style reeds. Modern interpretations of all these forms can be found in the diversity of our work today. As a matter of principle, we also ensure that the design features provide a clear indication of the musical style adopted.
In the classical concept, represented by the «Werkprospekt», the stop list follows the tonal pyramid. Careful scaling and voicing enable us to create a transparent, but not too sharp, overall sound. Although each individual foundation stop has the quality of a soloist, it is also suitable for polyphonic voice-leading. The diaphragm bellows generate a free-breathing wind supply that is regular, stable and devoid of wind sag. We consciously choose not to use windchest regulators in favour of a more musical attack.
Depending on the type of organ in question, we equip it with either suspended or balanced keyboards. Ideally, it should be sensitive with a moderate pluck. This facilitates clearly differentiated articulation. The stop action is completely mechanical unless the size and type of organ necessitate another solution.
In principle, our modern symphonic organ is similar to its classical forerunner, yet there are different emphases. Here, we base the scaling and voicing on the needs posed by the music of the 19th century. We devote special attention to the expansion of the number of foundation stops, which shall express the warmth and gravity of tone typical of this period. The sound concept of the reeds follows the German, French or English tradition.
One of the central elements in a symphonic organ is the swell, which we have improved to unparalleled efficiency. More even than a classical organ, the symphonic organ requires a steady wind. Our wind supply systems, allocated to the separate divisions, allow a sensible and precise differentiation of wind pressures. For this type of instrument, our mechanical action is designed to be slightly smoother, in order to accommodate different types of arti-culation as efficiently as possible. We overcome the limitations of the mechanical action by the use of traditional aids, perfected in-house by our craftsmen, such as «balanciers», «auxiliaries» and Kuhn lever. We also attach great importance to a user-friendly capture system with sufficient memory capacity and other modern aids.
For organ builders like us, making a new model based closely on a historical predecessor represents a particularly pleasant sort of challenge. Our repertoire is extensive and ranges all the way from the Renaissance Positive through to the design and construction of new organs with stop channel windchests and pneumatic action. When carrying out such assignments, we not only have to consider the style of the time at which the organ was built but also more specific qualities such as the regional styles and personal preferences of the organ builder.
However, our job does not consist of simply copying instruments as exactly as possible. After all, every new organ should radiate a spiritual and artistic personality all its own. Apart from this, the style chosen must be re-interpreted to blend with its surroundings. Here, our profound knowledge of art history is invaluable. Another vital feature is the need to acquire ancient production techniques, as well as learning about typical historical styles and putting them into practice. It is extremely interesting and exciting to try out old lead casting techniques or to make windchests based on many different systems, such as cone chests, or spring chests after the Lombardian or northern German style. We also manufacture wedge-bellows systems based on historical models.
Since the demands of historical reproductions are very similar to those of the restoration department, we benefit heavily here on the comprehensive know-how and vast experience of our specialists.