The fascination of organ building

 

 

Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2010

Restoration

Organ built by
Orgelbau Th. Kuhn AG, 1930
Windchests
membrane chests
Key action
pneumatic
Stop action
pneumatic
Inauguration
19.09.2010
Expert
Bruno Eberhard
Voicing
Gunter Böhme

Stop list


www.orgelbau.ch/ope=801540

Oberbalm

II/P/22

Switzerland, Berne
Ref. Kirche

© pictures Orgelbau Kuhn AG, Männedorf

Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2010

Restoration

Organ built by
Orgelbau Th. Kuhn AG, 1930
Windchests
membrane chests
Key action
pneumatic
Stop action
pneumatic
Inauguration
19.09.2010
Expert
Bruno Eberhard
Voicing
Gunter Böhme

A contemporary witness

The history of the organ in Oberbalm near Bern reflects the development of organ building in the 20th century only too well. The organ, opus 660 by Orgelbau Th. Kuhn AG, was built in 1930. With its exclusively pneumatic actions and membrane chests, the organ stood at the end of the development of an era that was characterised in German-speaking countries by the Romantic concept of the perfect sound and by instruments with stop channels. However, the so-called «Orgelbewegung» is already perceptible in the specification of the Oberbalm organ.

Later, when the ideal of the Baroque organs with slider chests had gained full acceptance, it was said about such pieces that they were «neither fish nor fowl». In order to better correspond to the new concept of the perfect sound, the tonal scheme of these organs was generally modified by changing the specification and by revoicing; these modifications were also effected with the organ of Oberbalm in the years 1960 and 1977.

In 2009 the question arose again as to what should now become of the organ. From a visual point of view an aesthetic solution would have been to reinstall the old proportions of the case by Johann Weber dating from 1845, especially because the front pipes from this period are preserved. However, this would have meant rebuilding a completely new organ, because the reduced measurements of the case would simply not allow installation of the existing organ. These considerations contrasted with the undisputable quality and technically good condition of the pneumatic organ. The tonal modifications that were accomplished later are not convincing by today's assessment because the technical conditions to achieve the ideal of the Baroque organ with the membrane chests and the pneumatic action are simply not met.

So the decision was taken to preserve this high quality pneumatic organ but to restore its tonal scheme to the original design. Thus the true value of this organ, a contemporary witness of 1930, is regained for us and the generations to come.

Translation: RS 2010


Stop list


www.orgelbau.ch/ope=801540