Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bielfeldt-Ahrend (1736-1987/1990) organ in St. Wilhadi (Stade)

St. Wilhadi Stade

Berendt Huß built the organ in St. Wilhadi between 1673 and 1676, with completion in 1678 by his nephew Arp Schnitger. After the Danish bombardment of 1712 destroyed half the organ, Arp Schnitger rebuilt the organ. In 1724 lighting struck the tower and organ (again!) and a new organ was built by Erasmus Bielfeldt of Celle and Bremen, with completion in 1736. The organ remained virtually unchanged until a rebuild in 1875–86 by Johann Hinrich Röver. More alterations were executed in 1937–38 by Paul Ott of Göttingen, including moving the Hinterwerk to a new Rückpositiv case.

Jürgen Ahrend of Leer-Loga completely rebuilt the organ between 1987 and 1990 with the aim of returning the organ to its 1736 condition.

HISTORY  of the Erasmus Bielfeldt organ in St. Wilhadi Stade

1322 First evidence of an organ in St.Wilhadi are handed down to us from the year 1322. No details of the instrument are known. However, we know the name of the builder of the organ Wilhadi: Berthold.  In addition to organs in Verden, Lübeck and Ratzeburg and Stade, the Wilhadi organ from 1322 was the very earliest evidence of the medieval organ building in northern Germany.

1659 In the devastating fire of Stade the organ in St. Wilhadi also becomes a victim of the flames.

1673 Berendt Huss begins with the construction of a new organ. This continous until 1676 under the direction of B. Huss. In 1676 he died and was buried in St. Wilhadi. Arp Schnitger will continue to build and complete the organ to 1678. The disposition of the organ (with 46 stops on 3 manuals and pedal) is still preserved in manuscript in the parish archives Schnitger Basedow (Mecklenburg).

1712 The organ is damaged in the bombing of the Danish in 1712. 1713/14 Schnitger, who has his workshop in 1682 in Hamburg, restores the instrument.
1724 Due to a lightning bolt striking the church tower,  the Schnitger Organ is completely destroyed, so that the tin had to be scraped off the gravestones.

1731 Erasmus Bielfeldt,  organbuilder from Stade, begins construction of a new organ. The work to go to November 1735. In 1736 the organ was opened on January 10.

In the second half of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, the organ is maintained initially by Georg Wilhelm Wilhelmy and then by his son George William, both of Stade.

1875/76 organ builder Henry Rover (Stade) leads repairs, a disposition revision,  and in 1894 the construction of a swell around the Hinterwerk. These works represent a vital first intervention in the design of the Bielfeldt organ.

1917 The visible tin front pipes are taken for the purposes of the war effort. They will be replaced in 1920 by a new front pipes made of zinc.

1937 Work begins, which corresponded to the time period: The Hinterwerk was converted into a Ruckpositiv.The Ruckpositiv was placed without enclosure in the back of the player on the gallery and this was only the  begining  of other modifications in the years 1961 to 1963, the organ case was incorporated into the railing of the gallery.  The result is not considered to be satisfactory, and from today's point of view, this restoration is a failure.

1990 A restoration by the Orgelbauwerkstatt Jürgen Ahrend (Leer) is completed. This is done on the basis of the great art of the Baroque organ and brings the organ into a technical, and as regards sound, to a state that corresponds to the time of origin. In addition to the Bielfeldt organ in Osterholz-Scharmbeck this is the second instrument by Erasmus Bielfeldt returned  to the old, colorful sonority.

Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707) Praeludium in A BuxWV 151
Ton Koopman at the Bielfeldt-Ahrend (1736-1987/1990)
organ in St Wilhadi (Stade)

Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Chorale Prelude "Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist" BuxWV 208
Chorale Prelude "Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist" BuxWV 209

Ton Koopman at the Bielfeldt-Ahrend (1736-1987/1990)
organ in St. Wilhadi (Stade)

Diderik Buxtehude (1637-1707)

Chorale Prelude "Von Gott will ich nicht lassen" BuxWV 221
Chorale Prelude "Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit" BuxWV 222

Ton Koopman at the Bielfeldt-Ahrend (1736-1987/1990)
organ in St Wilhadi (Stade)

Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707)
Praeambulum in A minor BuxWV 158

Ton Koopman at the Bielfeldt-Ahrend (1736-1987/1990)
organ in St. Wilhadi (Stade)


listen here to the individual sound of each stop


Principal 16'
Quintatön 16'
Octave 8'
Viola da Gamba 8'
Gedact 8'
Octave 4'
Nashat 3'
Octave 2'
Mixtur VI
Cimbel III
Trompete 16'
Trompete 8'

Positive Hinterwerk

Octave 8'
Rohrflöte 8'
Quintadena 8'
Octave 4'
Quinte 2'
Sesquialtera II
Octave 2'
Scharff III/IV
Fagott 16'
Vox humana 8'


Flute douce 8'
Octave 4'
Flute douce 4'
Quinte 1 1/3'
Scharff III/IV
Dulcian 8'
Schalmey 4'


Principal 16'
Subbaß 16'
Octave 8'
Octave 4'
Rauschquinte II
Mixture IV/V
Posaune 16'
Trompete 8'
Trompete 4'
Cornet 2'

Modified Werkmeister II Temperament
Pitch a' = 472 Hz
Wind pressure: 81 mm


Ton Koopman at the Bielfeldt-Ahrend (1736-1987/1990) organ in St. Wilhadi (Stade)

N. Bruhns: Praeludium in G (T. Koopman)
Ton Koopman
N. Bruhns: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (T. Koopman)
Koopman plays Buxtehude chorale preludes

Bux 136
Bux 142
D. Buxtehude: Praeludium in E BuxWV 143 (T. Koopman)
Bux 204 ; 150
Bux 151
Bux 152
Buxtehude - Bux 153
Buxtehude: Toccata in D Bux 155 (T. Koopman)
Bux 155

St. Mary's Rotherhithe 1764 Organ London GB

organ of St. Mary's Rotherhithe (London)

John Stanley (1713-1786)

Voluntary in D minor op. 6 no. 5
1. Adagio
2. Andante largo
3. Moderato

Ton Koopman at the historical organ of St. Mary's Rotherhithe (London) in excellent original historical condition.

John Stanley (1713-1786)

Voluntary in A minor op. 6 no. 8
1. Largo
2. Vivace

Ton Koopman at the historical organ of St. Mary's Rotherhithe (London)

The history of the Organ at St Mary's

The Vestry decided to rebuild St Mary's as early as 1705, but a faculty was not applied for until 1714; and although on 9th March 1715 it was recorded that the parish church is now finished in Pewing, not until 1746 did they decide to complete the tower and in the following year to provide it with bells. A further eighteen years elapsed before the new church was provided with an organ. Until then a small band of musical instruments led the singing of hymns and psalms.

The history of the organ begins with a vestry minute of 24th April 1764: -

Whereas many of the Parishioners have expressed their desire of having an Organ erected in this Church which they apprehend would be not only a very decent Ornament but also add to the Solemnity of Divine Service, we do unanimously agree that an Organ will make a very useful and agreeable addition to this Church and therefore authorise and desire the Churchwardens to erect the same as soon as possible.

The vestry also agreed that the expense of erecting the organ should be met by public subscription and at a subsequent meeting that the organist's salary be defrayed from the annual rate. The Churchwardens lost no time in starting the process of obtaining the necessary faculty from the Bishop of Winchester (of which diocese Rotherhithe was a part). The faculty was granted on 22nd July, it was decided that the organ was to be placed in the west gallery and to measure 21ft high, 12ft wide and 6ft 9inches deep with a further 2ft for the organist's seat. It was necessary to state these dimensions precisely to help establish that no regular worshipper would lose his or her seat through the space taken up by the instrument!

The organ is enclosed at the front by a polished mahogany case and at the back by dark stained wainscoting of pine standing between the case and the west wall. The breadth and depth of the organ as it stands today are exactly the same as the measurements stated in the faculty (organ stool excepted) leading to the unavoidable conclusion that the organ has occupied the same west gallery floor area right from the beginning and that the wainscoting was part of the original construction.

The organ retains more of its tonal qualities than any comparable instrument of its date. It is important for the understanding of 18th century church music and has attracted recitalists from far and wide. Nevertheless its original purpose of providing accompaniment for services at St. Mary's remains paramount.

A detailed description of the organ is to be found in the monograph by Austin Niland 'The Organist at St Mary's, Rotherhithe', published by the Positif Press ISBN 0906894115.


Open diapason 8'
Open diapason 8'
Stopped diapason 8'
Principal 4'
Twelfth 2 2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Sesquialtera IV
Cornet treble 8'
Trumpet 8'
Clarion 4'

Stopped diapason 8'
Principal 4'
Flute 4'
Fifteenth 2'
Cremona 8'

Double diapason 16'
Open diapason 8'
Stopped diapason 8'
Principal 4'
Fifteenth 2'
Trumpet 8'
Oboe 8'

Grand bourdon 16'

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