Day 10 Pipedreams Tour (Osterholz-Scharmbeck, Grasberg, Lilienthal, Bremen)

Joe Vitacco and the Pedal Organ Willehadi Kirche in Osterholz-Scharmbeck

Day 10 – Tuesday, May 17, 2011

 

We left Cuxhaven and the North Sea coast early this morning, beginning the long drive inland to the Bremen area and our last hotel.

The first organ today was in Osterholz-Scharmbeck, at the Willehadi Kirche which was completed by Erasmus Bielfeldt in 1748. It is preserved almost true to the original instrument and has 23 stops on two manuals and pedal. In the late 19th century it was altered and the facade pipes were taken for war purposes in 1917. The organ was carefully restored by Hillebrand in 1972, in 2004 Martin Hillebrand reconstructed (again) the front pipes.

We continued on to Grasberg to the Findorffkirche where we found a “second hand” Schnitger Organ. It was built in 1694 for the girls orphanage at Rodingsmarkt. In 1785, the orphanage sold the organ to the builder Johann Georg Wilhelm Wilhemy  who installed it in Grasberg. Harald Vogel informed us that the church did not know that it had a Schnitger, they thought they were getting some “old organ”, sort of like finding a Rubens painting at a garage sale. Here again, the facade pipes were lost to the war effort. In 1985 Hillebrand returned the organ to its 1788 condition. This organ originally stood in one of the few churches on Hamburg were a fee was not charged to visiting organist to play the instrument. As a result, it is highly likely that Bach, Buxtehude and Haendel would have played on this organ and on these still-original keyboards – no one washed their hands that night after playing.

From Graber we headed to Lilienthal to hear a romantic organ built for the Marienkirche by Rover in 1884. It has a mechanical playing action and pneumatic stop action, and 24 of the original 27 stops have remained unchanged. In 2005 the original specification was reinstated.

Our first stop upon arriving in Bremen was the Bartels music store were we could purchase a new Schnitger book written by Harald Vogel. There are beautiful color photos of the existing Schnitger organs, and B&W photos of numerous Schnitgers that have since been destroyed, plus drawings of some unbuilt proposals. Unfortunately, the book is in German only at this point, though there may be an English version when the second edition is done in a few years.

After this we walked across the Bremen market place where you can’t help but see the towering Dom and the City Hall. We made a short stop to see an interesting sculpture called the Town Musicians (die Bremer Stadtmusikanten) (based on the well-known Grimm Brothers story about the donkey, cat and rooster) on our way to the Martinikirche.

The Martinikirche’s organ case was created by Hermann Wulf in 1604 and is stunning, intricate and ornate, with delicate carvings and colored decorations in red, blue and gold. Though the pipes and mechanism had been many-times changed through the years, the case remained intact and was taken down before WWII, preserved in safe storage. In 1961 Juergen Ahrend and Gerhard Brunzema were commissioned to build a new organ in ‘old style’ with 32 stops on three manuals and pedal. The construction and voicing is close to the sound of authentic 17th and 18th century instruments. In 2005 the organ was retuned with a Bach-Kellner temperament. We were treated to an organ recital by excellent students of Hans Davidson, some from his local class, and others who are studying with him at the Eastman School. After this we checked into our new hotel and had a group dinner. Tomorrow is our final day.

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