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Thread: The new organ in Frauenkirche, Dresden.

  1. #1
    Administrator Frederik Magle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    The new organ in Frauenkirche, Dresden.

    The recontructed Dresden Frauenkirche (Germany), was inaugurated this year, and what an amazing effort! Everything has been meticulously rebuild, stone for stone. The Frauenkirche has a fantastic (and tragic) history - including the Gottfried Silbermann organ, on which Johann Sebastian Bach himself gave the inauguration concert on December 2, 1736!

    A new organ has been constructed for the Dresden Frauenkirche by the german pipe organ builder Kern. I have not heard the organ myself yet, but have no reason to doubt that it is of very fine quality. Unfortunately it was decided not to reconstruct the organ the same way the church was reconstructed, even though it could have been done.

    The new organ is simply a modern "standard" organ, like hundreds of other organs with tracker key-action of similar size found in churches around the world (even though it may, or may not, be of higher quality than the majority). Some of the voices has been build in a fashion to resemble the original Silbermann organ, but any real resemblance will be completely obscured by the fact that the new organ is tuned in modern (standard) equal temperament (!), instead of the original modified meantone, or perhaps a well-tempered temperature such as Kirnberger (III) or Werckmeister. That alone destroys ANY chance of it being able to reproduce the music of J.S. Bach in a true "authentic" way.

    I think it would have been wonderful to be able to go to Dresden and hear the organ the way it sounded on the time of J.S. Bach, but that is unfortunately not possible today.

    The re-constructed Frauenkirche ("Church of Our Lady"), Dresden, Germany:

  2. #2
    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Pennsylvania, USA

    Re: The new organ in Frauenkirche, Dresden.

    I've read a few articles about the church, and I was curious about the organ. It's really too bad the organ is not more "authentic!" I agree with you that in a situation like this, equal temperament is a really disappointing choice! There are builders nowadays who can make very fine instruments which are very close in sound and ideal to what the original might have been like. Perhaps such an instrument would not be exactly what was there originally, but it would at least be similar in concept.

    If you do go hear it, make sure you tell us your impressions!

    Thomas Dressler

  3. #3
    Recruit, Pianissimo Jarle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Re: The new organ in Frauenkirche, Dresden.

    Yes -- when the goal of the reconstruction was to make the church as close to the original as possible, the same goal should have been applied to the organ. Luckily, the Kern is reportedly a very fine organ in its own right, so they have at least not been stuck with a mediocrity.

    Jarle Fagerheim

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