View Full Version : Difference between a Concert Organ and a Church Organ ?

Aug-22-2004, 13:08
What is the difference between a Concert Organ and a Church Organ?


Frederik Magle
Aug-22-2004, 14:22
What is the difference between a Concert Organ and a Church Organ?


Well, a church organ is placed in a church (or other religious building) and used primarely for liturgical purposes (but can also be used for concerts in most cases), whereas a "concert organ" is found in a concert hall or other public non-religious venue and primarely used for concerts. Many people mistakingly think that any pipe organ is a "church organ", but that is not correct. Personally I prefer the term "pipe organ" in most cases since it covers both concert organs and church organs.

Aug-23-2004, 15:27
But is there a technical difference?
I mean, anything which is a sound difference,
maybe even something else

Frederik Magle
Aug-26-2004, 12:27
No, there is actually no technical difference, but of course since most every organ is build for the location, you will often find that "concert organs" (when found in concert halls) have more focus on voices useful for playing with an orchestra, such as a broad range of 16 and 32-feet stops in the pedal, a large dynamic spectrum overall etc. - but all those things can also be found in a large church organ, so there really isn't any global "standards" that differenciate the two.

But to summerize (and maybe clarify a little): A "concert organ" is - usually (but not always!) - a large (50+ voices) organ with a big dynamic range, a full tone and "romantic" capabilities. A "chuch organ" can be anything!... romantic, orchestral, baroque, neoclassical...you name it...and of any size from 1 voice to hundreds.

Aug-27-2004, 05:26
Clila, do you believe you are hearing a consistent difference between organs in churches and those in concert halls? I have not heard many pipe organs live, as I've only been really interested in the last couple of years or so, but it would seem to me that perhaps churches generally have a more "live" acoustic profile than concert halls. Churches tend to have more hard, sonically reflective surfaces such as glass, stone, masonry, etc., while concert halls have carpeting, curtains, upholstered seats, and other such soft, sonically absorptive material. Of course the addition of many soft-bodied, coughing, wheezing, speaking-at-the-wrong-time H. sapiens will decrease echo/reverberation in either venue, the church will still have a more "live" sound overall, even when full--or so I have noticed.

I was listening to my Karl Richter recording on the wonderful old organ in Victoria Hall (Geneve), before it burned down in 1983, and noticing that the amount of time needed for the sound to die away was very short compared to other recordings made in churches that I have been listening to recently. Of course microphone placement, organ construction, recording quality, etc. are all confounding factors, but I do think my assumptions / observations are generally correct. https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif


Aug-28-2004, 15:42
Well, to be honest, I feel as if the Churh Organ is more alive. Now, after Magle told me the differences, I'm well arawe of the reason "Y".
Though, I'll add another note - Do remember the usualy,
It is also about the player him\herself. If one plays like a zombie, trust me - the tune will be dead... ;-)

I'm sorry, I seem to simply adore the German Players, they just know how to touch the Organ better than other - To me.
Karl is good, Walcha - Better.
Also, do remember - It depends on which Organ one play!!