Orgelbau Th. Kuhn AG, 1985
Austria, Lower Austria
Stiftsbasilika, Hauptorgel (Festorgel)
Orgelbau Th. Kuhn AG, 1985
The so-called «Festival Organ» of the Collegiate Church of Klosterneuburg, near Vienna, was built between 1636 and 1642 by Johannes Freund (ca. 1615-1678). It is a typical example of the «Passau School» represented, over several generations, by the families of Putz, Freund and Egedacher. As Johann Freund was young and inexperienced at the time, the design for the project was produced by two Viennese experts, Johann Winsauer, Kapellmeister of St. Stephan and the organ builder Hans Wackerl. The design of the façade, however, is from Freund himself and the construction of the case was the responsibility of the court carpenters.
As to its type, the organ displays a number of features of the Renaissance, even though its construction was part of an early motion to add Baroque elements to the church.
- The façade of the main case lies flat along a single plane and is not yet shaped in relief with pointed or round towers jutting out.
- The distinction between Hauptwerk and Pedal Organ are not yet visible in the façade.
- The stop shanks are still in the form of iron levers, to be operated by vertically latching in, perhaps intended to be reminiscent of a spring chest system.
- Originally the organ had painted doors for closing the façade during the time of fasting. They no longer exist since they were removed, being thought not to fit stylistically, during a further phase of adding more Baroque elements (either in 1680/1702 or 1723/1730).
Among other things, this organ is well known for the fact that it has no wooden pipes, but only metal. The high quality, in particular of the front pipes, is not due to the alleged «pure English tin« but to the above average thickness of the metal sheets and a relatively high percentage of bismuth-copper added to the alloy (ca. 4/5 tin, 1/5 lead, 1% bismuth and copper).
In its more recent history the organ faced major setbacks. Looking ahead to a 300 year jubilee, a restoration of the organ was begun in 1941. The pipework was taken out and stored in the church towers whilst the complete mechanical systems, including rollerboards were taken to the Historical Art Museum in Vienna for restoration. There everything went up in flames shortly before the end of the war. After the war had ended (1948/50), the reconstruction of the organ which followed took place during the early days of modern organ restoration, taking a stance now inconceivable: taking into account the high standing of the organ, the original form of the instrument was not sought, but instead the intention was to give the organ the best available action and the best reed stops. For this reason the organ was fitted with a «Seilzugmechanik», which had newly come into fashion, and was constructed by Rieger Organ Builders. The French reeds came from Kuhn.
During the most recent restoration, which took place in two phases (1983/85 and 1989/90), the old mechanical system was reconstructed according to clues found in the framework of the organ. The reeds were newly built, analogous to the original Regal 8 ' which still existed. A new wedge-bellows system provided for a stylistically suited wind supply.
Translation 2008: SJR