Thursday, January 19, 2012

Countdown to Planyavsky at MIT (8 days)

Several of these posts have discussed the 1991 Rieger organ at the Stephansdom in Vienna, designed by Peter Planyavsky. However, I'm yet to speak of the history behind the preceding instruments.

I won't dwell on the length or the difficulty of the struggle to obtain the Rieger. Suffice it to say: Planyavsky became Domorganist in the 1960s. The Rieger came in the 1990s. 'Nuff said.

One problem was the sharp difference of opinion as to the worth of the large Kauffmann organ that still resides in the rear gallery. One camp felt that this postwar instrument was of inferior sound and cheap materials. The other camp felt the organ wasn't THAT bad; and because it is an example of that particular school of organbuilding, it is considered "historic."

What everyone agrees on, however, is the magnificence of the organ that the Kauffmann replaced.

The 1886 E. F. Walcker organ was an instrument that is hard for most of us to imagine today. Imagine a Romantic organ, of that vintage, with a Hauptwerk of 35 stops! 47 ranks! The 1881 E. F. Walcker at the Mariendom in Riga, Latvia, still exists. It gives us a sense of the aural and visual splendor that the larger, younger Walcker must have possessed.

The Stephansdom Walcker was destroyed by bombing during World War II.

Below: The 1881 E. F. Walcker organ at Riga Cathedral, Latvia.