• Welcome to the Pipe Organ Forum! This is a part of the open community Magle International Music Forums focused on pipe organs (also known as "church organs"), organists, organ music and related topics.

    This forum is intended to be a friendly place where technically advanced organists and beginners (or even non-organists) can feel comfortable having discussions and asking questions. We learn by reading and asking questions, and it is hoped that the beginners (or non-organists) will feel free to ask even the simplest questions, and that the more advanced organists will patiently answer these questions. On the other hand, we encourage complex, technical discussions of technique, music, organ-building, etc. The opinions and observations of a diverse group of people from around the world should prove to be interesting and stimulating to all of us.

    As pipe organ discussions can sometimes become lively, it should be pointed out that this is an open forum. Statements made here are the opinion of the poster, and not necessarily that of the forum itself, its administrator, or its moderators.

    In order to post a new topic - or reply to existing ones - you may join and become a member by clicking on Register New User. It's completely free and only requires a working email address (in order to confirm your registration - it will never be given away!). We strive to make this a friendly and informative forum for anyone interested in pipe organs and organ music.

    (Note: If you wish to link to and promote your own website please read this thread first.)

    Many kind regards

    Frederik Magle


Cathedral in Poland


New member
Some time back, in a thread on six-manual organs, there was a mention of a new cathedral in Poland, somewhat out-of-the-way, and largely one priest's doing. I can't find any reference to it in Google, etc. Does anyone remember the name of the place? I find it rather odd not to be able to come up with anything. Oh yes, it was one of the six-deckers.


New member
That's got to be it. Thanks, fellows. And on one of the videos something unusual (for European organs) happens -- when the guy presses a piston (which are very sparse), the stop keys actually move.

It seems they have different ideas in Europe - no pistons for different divisions, just generals, and pretty much set by the company that made the organ. What ever happened to choice in the matter? Oh yes, sometimes you see what the Germans call "Freikombination", which would appear to mean you can set them.

On the other hand, imagine American Presidents who were no longer around by 1900. Can you imagine how boggled they would be by such things as cars and airplanes, to say nothing of computers? By the same token, Cavaille-Coll and his coterie of organists would be equally taken aback by a console like Mormon Tabernacle, for instance. But they might also think it was a vast improvement.

But the fact remains, Daniel Roth still gets plenty of sound out of that 1862 monster.
Last edited:


Sr. Regulator
Staff member
Sr. Regulator
-- when the guy presses a piston (which are very sparse), the stop keys actually move.

Is it really that rare? I am no specialist on pipe organ but I was dead sure that's just the way it is, everywhere. Maybe it's because I'm European...:rolleyes:

Also, Freikombination is quite popular solution, I saw it in many different organ. In Polish it's called "Wolne Kombinacje".

Not sure though, what does word piston mean in this context?

Weren't you surprised by the acoustics? From what I've heard, I say the organist in Licheń does not have an easy job...
Last edited:


New member
Pistons, referring to organs, not internal-combustion engines, are the little (usually white) buttons between the manuals that change stop combinations. There is a "set" piston to put a given combination on a given piston, thus they are known as "adjustable" pistons. There are also toe studs that duplicate general and pedal pistons.

But this is in the U.S., and there are differences in other countries. It seems that in Europe, especially Germany, many organs have only "general" pistons under the first manual. And I understand they are not always "adjustable".

Yes, when a piston is pressed, the stop knobs or tabs and couplers, etc. move to the combination set on that piston. That way, the organist can also add or subtract stops by hand. There are usually (in the U. S.) pistons for each manual (division) plus "general" ones that change all the divisions at once. Also there are "reversible" pistons, usually to control couplers and 32-foot stops. Those are not changeable and have just one particular purpose.

All this came about around the late 19th or early 20th centuries when electrical action became common. Nowadays some builders provide new tracker-actions organs with electrical stop control, so they can have the convenience of pistons.

Depending on the size and complexity of a particular organ, there are sometimes pistons to do certain things, such as kill off the reed stops, etc. I suppose at least theoretically, they could be used to do anything the builder wants them to do, such as tell the preacher it's time to shut up.

I hope this clarifies what "pistons" are!!
Last edited:


New member
Indeed, many organs in Europe don't have the pistons and just have 'general'.
The III/P at my post has 'fixed combinations' as they are called (like PP-P-MF-F-FF-T), and 2 'free combinations'. And that's a luxury. The console dates from 1953, when that was fashionable. The original Schyven organ dates back from 1886. It's still the same organ, just another console. Where historical restorations take place, those consoles are now being removed and the 'original' ones are rebuilt. Many restorations from the 50's and those years, who replaced the original console with new ones having pistons, have rebuilt the original consoles ... without the pistons.
I don't really miss them. It's a habit.
If I'd be used to an organ with many setzer combinations, and came to play a recital in a different location without them, it would be more difficult than vice-versa. So I mostly stick go General, which keeps me very agile with the stops.