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Goerlitz (Görlitz), Sonnenorgel [Back to Library]

Producer: Sonus Paradisi
Builder: Mathis
Country: Germany
Style: Eclectic
Manuals: 4
Pedalboard: No
Audio Ouput:
Date Built: 1997


The church of St. Peter and Paul in Görlitz was founded in the 13th century and it attained its present shape in 1497. The central nave is flanked by four aisles, forming a huge and highly reverberant space. In 1691 it was reconstructed after a fire, and consequently it was given a new organ, finished in 1703 by Eugenio Casparini (1623-1706) and his son.

The organ had 57 stops on 3 manuals and it was among the largest instruments in Silesia. The organ case was designed by the architect Johann Conrad Büchau. The special feature of this facade is the implementation of 17 golden suns, which also sounded as a pedal cornet-mixtur of 12 ranks. These suns have given name to the instrument: Sun-organ = Sonnenorgel. The pedal mixture "Sonnenmixtur" had also a trumpet rank included. These reed pipes were spread all over the case held in the hands of the angels!

Although the organ was very famous, Johann Sebastian Bach complained about the tough tracker touch. When playing it, he said that this organ required a the strength of a horse to press the keys.

Besides the organ case, only the Cypress-wood pipes of Onda maris have survived from the Casparini organ until the present. In 1894, the company Schlag and Sons rebuilt the instrument. Later in 1928, the company Sauer installed an electo-pneumatic organ into the historical case. The Sauer organ had 89 stops on 4 manuals and pedal.

The interior of the church was restored between 1980-1992 and there were plans to build a new organ into the historical case. The specification of the new instrument could not follow Casparini´s organ (since none of his instruments exists unaltered). Furthermore, the Sauer organ was not suitable for restoration, being only partially preserved after World War II. The expert committee decided to build an instrument inspired by the Casparini´s baroque concept, but enlarged by a swell manual allowing to also perform later organ music. The work was entrusted to the Swiss company Mathis Orgelbau.

In 1997, the first part of the instrument was inaugurated: the 3 manuals (HW, OW, BW), and the pedal. The construction of the swell division was postponed, and was completed in 2006. The clever voicing of the instrument and its large, rich specification makes the organ universally suitable for almost every kind of organ music. The organ has 87 speaking stops, the usual couplers, a number of playing aids and toy stops.

One additional special feature of the instrument must be mentioned: its toy stops. The instrument has five highly entertaining stops: Kuckuck, Tamburo, Vogel-gesang, Cymbelstern and Nachtigall. Oh, this last one is particularly amusing.

We agreed with the government of the Görlitz church, that after making the digital snapshot of the instrument, there should still be something unique and special left that the visitor should hear only and exclusively when visiting the church personally. For this reason, the Sonnenmixtur - the top-most specialty of this instrument - remains silent in the Hauptwerk virtual model.

Special thanks to Mr. Reinhard Seeliger, the organist of the Sonnenorgel, for his exceptional kindness and tireless support during our recording sessions.

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