An organbuilder's story ...
Work on an organ comprises such a variety of skills that is seldom found today in a single product.
It is best that we leave an organbuilder and a tin-pipe maker to use their own words. They can point to all the details necessary for completing an organ, to the point where it can delight the listener with its melodic charm.
With few exceptions, every organ is unique.
Size, the number of pipes, inner construction, and tonal production - all of these are governed by the size and shape of the room, and its acoustic properties, together with the musical requirements, the organ's liturgical role, and the financial freedom of the contractor.
Painstaking planning and budgeting go before the construction of any organ. These require extensive theoretical and practical understanding of organbuilding, but also of the related disciplines of architecture, history of art, acoustics, and liturgy. In the architectural and musical planning process, skill and handicraft are not enough. Artistic ability is necessary too. Here, the skill of organbuilding unites with artistic skill.
The real construction of the organ combines the construction of the individual parts, such as the console, actions, windchests, wooden and metal pipes, wind reservoirs and the case. The work on each of these parts requires special skills. A wide knowledge and extensive experience are of great importance.
The most important raw material is wood - and indeed solid wood. Working with solid wood requires a special knowledge of the material: how it behaves under the influence of variations in temperature and humidity. In building a wooden case, the organ builder must take into consideration all the properties of solid wood. And since the size of each organ and each room is different, no mass production is possible. The organ builder learns equally about the preparation of wood and metal pipes. But in general, he does not learn about the detailed properties of metal pipes: these remain the speciality of the tin-pipemaker.
The completion of all the individual parts of an organ occurs - according to the scale of the project - with individual or group work.
The erection of an organ takes place first of all as a provisional assembly in the workshop, to check whether everything passes muster. As a rule, the instrument is not yet completed to be in a playable condition.
For transportation, the instrument is again dismantled. When it reaches its destination, it is erected permanently. Here follows also the voicing and tuning of the organ. The voicer and tuner must also be an able organbuilder, as he is the last person to work on the organ and must be capable of correcting any technical problems. The organ builder must also be able to attend to existing instruments, taking care of maintenance, cleaning, revision and tuning. This can also be extremely stimulating, when you can cause an old instrument to give of its best only by achieving a thorough understanding of its history.