If you are like me and love not only Baroque music but the architecture under that same heading, you will be happy to come with me on an imaginary (and perhaps one day real) tour around Holzhey’s organs in Germany.

Johann Nepomuk Holzhey (1741-1809) was a South German builder, whose most famous work is probably Neresheim. As a Gesamtkunstwerk of sound, casework, position and the entire building it must be almost a vision of Heaven. Like the Gabler organ in Weingarten, the various departments of the organ frame the west windows of the church. Now beautifully restored, this instrument (which I have heard only on CD) sounds magnificent.

Let’s travel south to Rot an der Rot – maybe not the greatest of the Rococo churches, but rather the start of a decline. Still, the organ is well worth visiting. It was restored by Klais in 1989, and has three manuals including an Echo, so we are well into the Romantic era.

We can now do a strange sort of loop, travelling north-west to Obermarchtal. The setting alone is worth the journey, with lovely undulating countryside, and the monastery buildings are well preserved. The organ’s three manuals (Hauptwerk, Positiv and Echo) and 43 stops allow plenty of colours in a repertoire from Mozart even up to Lefébure-Wely.

Continuing our loop, we find ourselves in Schiessen and presented with a smaller instrument of 17 stops over two manuals (Hauptwerk and Positiv) and pedal. Once again, it is the colours that are important to this organ, with its five eight-foot stops on the HW. Some of the stops, however, date from 1919. Even here the little positive remains, as always with this builder, a miniature version of the HW.

Ursberg lies still further east, towards Augsburg. This is a two-manual organ with a large HW and six-stop Positiv.

Finally, we may travel southwards towards Lake Constance, only a stone’s throw from Weingarten, and arrive at Weissenau. This is almost as magnificent an experience on our imaginary journey as where we began. There appears to be every opportunity for dramatic musical effects here, and the Werckmeister III temperament will provide some exotic colour to certain keys and chords!

The only limitation on our itinerary is to have omitted not only Weingarten, but also Ottobeuren, Memmingen, Kempten and much else besides!

Best wishes,

Roger.