Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2004
Switzerland, Saint Gall
Ref. Kirche St. Laurenzen, Hauptorgel
Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2004
The re-evaluation of Gothic Revival
The restoration of the church of St. Laurenzen marks a turning point in the preservation of ancient monuments in Switzerland: the neo-Gothic creations were here no longer mocked and degraded but accepted as genuine work of that period and found worthy of being protected as ancient monuments. Albert Knoepfli was a main supporter of this volte-face. In this connection he called himself frankly a «convert». With the exterior and interior renovation therefore no attempt was made to eliminate the neo-Gothic design and to remove the «old» Gothic of the building. The intention was rather to keep both styles in coexistence. The principle of approving the Gothic Revival also influenced the interior design of the church. The planned new organ had therefore to stay on the east gallery and the neo-Gothic organ case dating from 1856 was somehow to be reused.
The baroque organ (II/27) built by Johann Jakob Bommer in 1762 (the first one after the reformation) already took the large middle window in the east choir of the church into account. The pedal towers were located on the outside, only the choir organ on the central axis hid the inferior border of the window. The architect Christoph Kunkler designed a neo-Gothic case for the new organ built by Martin Braun in 1856. In accordance with the period a choir organ was dispensed with. The large pedal towers remained lateral to the window. A low bridge with 49 sham pipes connected both sides. The organ had tracker actions and cone chests (III/36).
In 1907/08 Orgelbau Goll in Lucerne rebuilt the instrument. In fact they built a new organ (IV/51) and reused the case and many of the old stops. The organ was given membrane chests and tubular pneumatic actions. Apart from a few modifications in 1940 the instrument was not touched until it was dismantled in 1975.
For the construction of a new organ after the interior renovation of the church, different alternatives were considered. Finally, the organ, as it has now been built, received approval from all sides. The specification (III/P/45) of the departments of the tracker organ with slider chest is housed as follows:
- As regards the great organ and the pedal organ, both of the lateral cases in neo-Gothic style were restored and reused. The pipes were divided in C side and C# side, the great organ is located in the front and the pedal organ in the back.
- As far as the positive is concerned, Mr. Bommer's solution was taken up again and a choir organ was used. But the style was oriented towards both of the neo-Gothic main cases. Even the neo-Gothic ornamentation (still recently referred to as «frippery») was faithfully copied.
- The large Romantic swell organ was located as choir organ in the lower case below the gallery. The panels of the front were removed for the egress of sound and replaced by cross grilles.
- The detached console was located in the middle behind the choir organ. Here, a neo-Gothic design was dispensed with.
Friedrich Jakob, 2006
Translation 2008: RS
Hansjörg Gerig: Die Orgeln der Kirche St. Laurenzen in St. Gallen, St. Gallen 1979.