The Arp Schnitger organ at St. Jacobi is the largest, still-operating baroque organ built in the north-German style, and is a priceless and peerless cultural monument. Its oldest parts date back to the Reformation, and it remained completely intact until the 20th century. Despite suffering major damage in this period, up to 80% of the original parts could be preserved, and the organ was painstakingly restored in 1993 and now shines again in all its former glory.
The Jacobi organ contains the most comprehensive collection of original pipes from the period before 1700 in a single instrument. A quarter of these date back to the time before Arp Schnitger, and include pipes produced by the renowned Scherer and Fritzsche families, whose work elevated Hamburg significantly in the world of organ design and construction from the late 16th century. But it is not just the age or quantity of the approximately 4000 pipes that make it such a treasure — the quality of its sound is unsurpassed. The composition and variety of the 60 stops benefit from the consideration that went into its make-up, and makes it a place of pilgrimage for organists and organ lovers from around the world.
Feel free to plan a visit to St. Jacobi for a free organ tour with sound samples every Thursday at 12 noon, and a 30-minute organ music concert at 4.30pm every Thursday (except public holidays). The organ can also be regularly heard during church services, and in summer, internationally recognised organists perform a varied organ concert program.
Check the event calendar for the next opportunity to listen to the Arp Schnitger organ.
J. S. Bach, 1685-1750
- Präludium C-Dur BWV 545, 1
- Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ BWV 604
- Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her BWV 606
- Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar BWV 607
- Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich BWV 609
- Pastorale BWV 590, 1
- Fuge C-Dur BWV 545, 2
from the CD: "Festliche Weihnachtsmusik mit Jacobi-Organist Gerhard Löffler an der Arp-Schnitger-Orgel (1693)". The CD (MDG 906 2123-6 (SACD)) is available at the church counter in St. Jacobi and at a retailer near you.
The Kemper organ was built between 1960 and 1968 by Lübeck organ building company as a universal instrument in the context of the organ reform movement. In the first phase of construction, a three-manual (keyboard) instrument with 45 stops was built in three levels at the end of the southern nave, and the organ was first played on the first advent Sunday of 1960. It was significantly expanded in 1968, and given an elevation to the Steinstrasse nave, with a second swell box built, Janus-faced, into the blind window. Completion of the second construction phase provided the organ with 68 stops, 6 of which are transmissions (extensions).
The extreme excesses of the organ’s movement and isolated overtones were remedied during the restoration carried out in 2007/2008 by organ builder and restoration workshop Rainer Wolter, while still retaining key characteristics such as the slider chest construction and the historical organ console. The most important measure was a comprehensive resurfacing of the stops that now combine the sound better. A specific act of careful reverence saw the installation of the 2' flue pipes which had been part of the Schnitger organ from 1924 to 1989 into the side.
Pitch a' = 442 Hz at 18° Celcius
minimal uneven tuning