Schnitger organ (Hamburg)

Hamburg, Germany

Schnitger organ (Hamburg)


The organ of the St. Jacobi Church (St. James' Church) in Hamburg, was built from 1689 to 1693 by the most renowned organ builder of his time, Arp Schnitger. The organ boasts four manuals and pedal with 60 stops, 15 of which are reeds – and has approximately 4000 sounding pipes. All in all, from the organ's original installation and its condition today (despite the partial destruction during World War II) not much of its conception has changed. The old pipework and the prospect pipes have been preserved in almost original format. It is the largest organ in existence from before 1700 and is one of the most eminent Baroque instruments that have been preserved.

It is not yet documented when the very first organ at St. Jacobi was built. Nevertheless, it can be attested to that there was a certain organist at St. Jacobi named "Meister Rudolf" around 1300. It is known that from 1512 – 1516 a two-manual instrument was built by Jacob Iversand and Harmen Stüven. A Rückpositiv (positive organ division) was added before 1543. Further refurbishments followed in the 16th and 17th centuries by several builders. Among them were Jacob Scherer (from 1551), his son-in-law Dirk Hoyer (1577–1578) who built a new Rückpositiv and two new pedal towers; also Hans Bockelmann (1588–1589) and Hans Scherer the Elder (1588–1592) who provided a new Oberwerk (upper division). Scherer's sons Hans and Fritz refurbished the organ in 1606/7. At the end of the 16th century, musician Hieronymus Praetorius thus ended up having one of the most impressive and large instruments in the country at his disposal. The earlier disposition of 1592 with 53 stops and 3 manuals is provided by Michael Praetorius in his treatise, Syntagma Musicum:

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