Arp Schnitger

Arp Schnitger
Born (1648-07-02)July 2, 1648
Died July 28, 1719(1719-07-28) (aged 71)
Golzwarden (now in Brake, Lower Saxony)
Nationality German
Occupation Organ builder

Arp Schnitger (July 2, 1648 July 28, 1719 (buried)) was a highly influential German organ builder.

Schnitger was born in Schmalenfleth, and was baptized on July 9, 1648, in Golzwarden. He was primarily active in Northern Europe, especially the Netherlands and Germany, where a number of his instruments survive to the present day; his organs can also be found as far away as Portugal and Brazil. He died in Neuenfelde, aged 71.

Notable examples of his work still in use include the organ at St. Pancratiuskirche, Neuenfelde, Hamburg (completed in 1688, his largest two-manual instrument); St. Jacobikirche, Hamburg (perhaps the most famous surviving Schnitger organ, completed in 1693); St. Martinikerk, Groningen, the Netherlands (1692); St. Ludgerikirche, Norden (1688); St. Cosmae und Damianikirche, Stade (Schnitger's first organ, completed in 1676 after the death of his teacher Berendt Huss); St. Peter und Paulkirche, Cappel (perhaps the most authentic of Schnitger's organs still in existence, originally in the Johanniskirche, Hamburg, 1680); and St. Michaeliskerk, Zwolle, the Netherlands (completed by his son Franz Caspar after Schnitger's death). Organs like this are credited with inspiring the renaissance in organ building during the early twentieth century, with a return to tracker action and smaller, more cohesive instruments, as distinct from the late-Romantic trend of extremely large symphonic organs. In particular, the organ at the Jacobikirche, Hamburg, played a pivotal role in the organ reform movement beginning in 1925, as a series of conferences taking place at historical organ sites in Germany and Alsace was inaugurated there.

The importance of Schnitger to the history of organ building cannot be overestimated. Schnitger was one of the most prolific builders of his time, completing more than 150 instruments and running several shops. His organ designs typify the essential North German organ: multiple divisions, usually with a rückpositif (division on the gallery rail, behind the player's back); large, independent pedal divisions, often placed in towers on either side of the main case; well-developed principal choruses in each division with abundant reeds, flutes, and mutation stops; and meantone temperament. All of these features could be found on North German organs prior to Schnitger's activity; Schnitger's genius lay in his ability to synthesize these elements into a prototypical style of organ building, and in his prolific output. The latter was made possible by his good business sense: Schnitger was one of the first builders to use cost-cutting measures on a large scale to ensure the affordability of organs for small village churches.

Many of Schnitger's landmark instruments were actually rebuilds or expansions of existing organs (as at St. Jacobikirche, Hamburg, a renovation and enlargement of an earlier instrument by Fritzsche, 1635). Often, the expansion of the pedal division required the addition of pedal towers on either side of the case. This feature has come to be one of the most-typically associated with the North German style, despite the fact that a majority of smaller organs did not have pedal towers.

A number of Schnitger's organs were featured on recordings by E. Power Biggs, who is generally credited with reintroducing them to modern listeners. More recently, Schnitger's organs can be heard on several recordings by German organist Harald Vogel. Schnitger's instruments in Groningen, Uithuizen, Noordbroek and Nieuw Scheemda were featured in the documentary Martinikerk Rondeau, in which Jurgen Ahrend, Cor Edskes and Bernhardt Edskes detail Schnitger's life and demonstrate his working methods. Schnitger's organs have also served as inspiration for many modern builders; GOArt, a Swedish organ building consortium, has even gone so far as to build an exact copy of a Schnitger organ for research purposes.

Surviving Schnitger organs

year town church picture manuals stops original by Schnitger
1668–75/88 Stade (D) St. Cosmae et Damiani III/P 42 case, prospect, 35 stops (8 partly)
1677–79 Bülkau (D) St. John the Baptist I 10 (?) case, prospect; today II/P/22
1678–79/1709 Jork (D) St. Matthias III/P 35 case, prospect; today II/P/22
1680 Cappel (D) St. Peter and Paul II/P 30 case, prospect, 18 stops, 10 other old stops re-used by Schnitger
1678–82 Oederquart (D) St. Johannis III/p 28 case, prospect; today II/P/17
1682–83 Lüdingworth (D) St. Jacobi III/P 35 case, prospect, 14 stops (complete or partly), much old pipework reused by Schnitger (half of the organ)
1684 Elmshorn (D) St. Nicolai II/P 23 case; today III/P/33
1686 Hamburg-Bergstedt (D) Ev. Church I 8 case, 2-3 stops
1687 Blankenhagen (D) Village Church II/p 12 case, 4-5 stops
1687 Steinkirchen (D) St. Nicolai et Martini II/P 28 case, prospect, 13 stops, 8 other partly
1683–88 Hamburg-Neuenfelde (D) St. Pankratius II/P 34 case, prospect, 18 stops
1688 Mittelnkirchen (D) St. Bartholomäus II/p 22 6-8 stops; today II/P/32
1688–90 Hollern (D) St. Mauritius II/P 24 case, prospect, 13 stops (complete or partly)
1686–88/1691–92 Norden (D) St. Ludgeri III/P 46 case, 13 stops, 8 old stops reused by Schnitger
1691–92 Groningen (NL) Martinikerk (Groningen) III/P 53 case of the pedal, prospect, 6 stops, other old stops reused by Schnitger; today III/P/52
1689–93 Hamburg (D) St. Jacobi IV/P 60 43 stops (complete or partly), some reused by Schnitger → Schnitger organ (Hamburg)
1693 Groningen (NL) Pelstergasthuiskerk II/p 20 case, 2 register (7 partly)
1693 Eutin (D) castle I 9 case
1693–94 Grasberg (D) Luth. Church II/P 21 case, 14 stops
1695–96 Noordbroek (NL) Hervormde Kerk II/P 20 case, 10-11 stops; today II/P/24
1695–96 Harkstede (NL) Hervormde Kerk I 7 case, prospect, 5 stops; today I/p/9 (10)
1696–97 Peize (NL) Hervormde Kerk II/P 22 case, prospect, 4-6 stops, old stops reused by Schnitger
1697–98 Strückhausen (D) St. Johannes II/p 12 case of the Hauptwerk, 2 stops; today II/P/15
1697–98 Dedesdorf (D) St. Laurentius II/p 12 case of the manuals, 10 stops; today II/P/18
1697–98 Golzwarden (D) St. Bartholomäus II/P 20 case; today II/P/22
1699 Nieuw-Scheemda (NL) Hervormde Kerk I/p 8 case, 4-6 stops
1696–99 Mensingeweer (NL) Hervormde Kerk I 9 case, prospekt, 6 stops
1699 Ganderkesee (D) St. Cyprian und Cornelius II/p 16 case, prospect, 9 stops; today II/P/22
1700–01 Uithuizen (NL) Hervormde Kerk II/P 28 case, 19 stops, 6 others partly
1701 Maia, Portugal Monastery Church San Salvador II 12 case, 11 stops
1701 Mariana, Minas Gerais (Brazil) Cathedral Nossa Senhora da Assunção II/p 18 case, prospect, 14 stops (complete or partly); probably by Schnitger's co-worker Heinrich Hullenkampf[1]
1699–1702 Clausthal-Zellerfeld (D) St. Salvatoris III/P 55 case; today II/P/29
1700–02 Groningen (NL) Der Aa-kerk III/P 32 case, prospect, ca. 13 stops, 10 old stops reused by Schnitger; today III/P/40
1702 Estebrügge (D) St. Martin II/P 34 case
1704 Eenum (NL) Hervormde Kerk I 10 case, prospect, 4-6 stops; today I/p/10
1704 Godlinze (NL) Hervormde Kerk II/p (?) 16 case, prospect, 8-9 stops; today I/p/12
1705 Accum (D) St. Willehad II/p 14 case
1707–08 Lenzen (D) St. Katharinen II/P 27 case partly, 2-3 stops
1707–08 Hamburg-Ochsenwerder (D) St. Pankratius II/P 30 case, prospect, 5-11 stops; today II/P/24
1709–10 Weener (D) St.-Georg II/p 22 case, 6 stops; today II/P/29
1710–11 Pellworm (D) Old Church II/P 24 case, 11 stops (complete or partly)
1710–11 Sneek (NL) Grote of Martinikerk III/P 36 case, prospect, 10 stops (complete or partly)
1711 Ferwert (NL) Hervormde Kerk II/P 26 5 stops
1710–13 Abbehausen (D) St. Laurentius II/P 24 case, prospect, 2 stops
1715–16 Faro, Portugal Cathedral II 22 probably by Schnitger's co-worker Heinrich Hullenkampf[1]
1714–16 Rendsburg (D) Christuskirche II/P 29 case, 4 stops; today IV/P/51
1715–19 Itzehoe (D) St. Laurentii IV/P 43 case, prospect; today IV/P/58
1719–21 Zwolle (NL) Grote of Sint-Michaëlskerk IV/P 64 case, main part of the stops; finished by the sons Franz Caspar Schnitger and Johann Georg Schnitger

See also


  1. 1 2 Organ Tours of Brasil

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