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The Organ Culture

Discover how much of Arp Schnitger’s heritage has been preserved in the North Sea coastal region. This is the world’s richest organ landscape.

Die Orgelkultur

Erkunden Sie, wie weit Arp Schnitgers Erbe im Nord­see­küsten­gebiet bewahrt ist. Dies ist die reichste Orgel­land­schaft der Welt.

Arp Schnitger

Master of the Art of Northern European
Organ Building Past and Present

The importance of the contribution of the North Sea and Baltic coastal regions to our musical world heritage in the form of baroque organ art cannot be overestimated. This includes both organ building and organ music. No other style of organ building has inspired so many new projects in the 20th and 21st centuries, while no other composing style has in the past 100 years been brought back from obscurity to such a high degree of prominence, as the North German organ repertoire of the 17th century. The most significant artist in the field of organ building was Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), from the district of Wesermarsch on the left bank of the river Weser, while the most significant composer of organ music was Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707), who worked in Lübeck.

Distribution and Preservation of the Organs

Arp Schnitger built 36 organs in the old hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Stade and Bremen, and the Dutch town of Groningen. These included the largest organs in Europe. In Groningen alone, three formidable Schnitger organs can still be heard today. More than 800 organ stops were manufactured in Schnitger’s workshops in Hamburg for these four cities alone, of which over 200 survive and continue to fascinate listeners with their sound. Roughly 20,000 pipes from Schnitger’s workshops still exist today. Add to this the many older pipes found and re-used by Schnitger. The Dutch school of organ building of the 16th and 17th centuries paved the way for Schnitger to develop his own style of organ building, which set new standards. He built instruments for Northern Europe (from Moscow to the Netherlands), England, Spain and Portugal. One of his organs can even be found in the cathedral of Mariana in Brazil. The centre of his activities however was based around the North Sea coastal region between Hamburg and Groningen.

More about the organ facades

The organs