Organ Works

Kahla, St. Margarethen

new choir organ with two tuning temperaments | II/10 | 2021 | opus 1014

The Church

The evangelical (Lutheran) town church in Kahla (Thuringia) with its striking bell tower was built in the 15th century on the ruins of a former Romanesque building destroyed by fire. The simple rectangular flat-ceilinged main space is joined to an elevated late gothic polygonal choir, with large traceried windows and rib vault. Alterations and rearrangement of the interior, together with repairs to war damage, continued up until 1955. Decorative features left over from the Renaissance and Baroque era include the pulpits and the two-storey galleries carried along on each side as far as the choir.


The Old Organ

The former organ on the upper west gallery dated from 1955. In that year Hermann Lahmann (Leipzig) undertook a rebuilding and enlargement behind a new plain façade, using parts from the war-damaged previous organ built in 1796 by Johann Andreas Schulze from Milbitz. Following a further rebuild in 1965 by the firm of Sauer (Frankfurt/O) the organ had 29 stops spread over two manuals and pedal with mechanical key action and pneumatic stop action. Technical problems, deficiencies, wear and tear, together with a general level of quality falling short of artistic demands, made further repairs pointless.


The Johann Walter Organ Project

The composer and organist Johann Walter (1496-1570) was born, baptised and brought up in Kahla. He was involved in the reform of the German Mass introduced by Martin Luther and set some of his German hymn texts. His publication of the first Lutheran hymn book and the establishment of church choirs (Kantoreien) – inter alia - had an important influence on the development of Protestant church music. For that reason Walter may be considered the Urkantor of the Lutheran Church.

The building of a new organ, dedicated to his name in his home town, is to be a fitting memorial to Walter’s important position in church music. The concept foresees two separate organs – a main instrument (HW/SW/Ped) placed on either side of the central window on the west gallery – and, at ground level, a choir organ with dual temperament at the front against the north wall. Both instruments may be played separately or combined as a single entity. The first stage saw the completion of the choir organ, and the main organ will follow later. Further details of the project may be found on the church’s web-page.


The Choir Organ (Johann-Walter-Positiv)

It was appropriate, given that the organ bears Walter’s name, that the tonal concept should reflect his work and times. The specification is thus conceived as a classical Positiv with 10 stops based on an 8ft Prinzipal plus 16ft Subbaß. A particular delight is the use of mean-tone temperament, allowing authentic performance of music from the Renaissance period. It is only through mean-tone temperament with its characteristic key properties that the structure and effect of music composed before 1700 can convincingly be conveyed. At the same time, the interpretation of later compositions, as well as combined use with the main organ, requires well-tempered tuning. In order to unite the two systems in a single instrument the semitones (C sharp, D sharp, F sharp, G sharp and B flat) of the manual stops from low B flat upwards are each provided with two pipes standing on separate channels and tuned accordingly. A mechanical device allows the player to select the required tuning system, with the chosen temperament using one or other of the dual notes.

The second manual has no stops of its own, but, together with the first, enables the future main organ on the west gallery to be played using electric action.

The design of the façade is based on the classical five-division concept and traditional placing of front pipes, with three larger flats encompassing two smaller treble flats. Winged doors can be completely closed over the upper part of the case whilst the recessed lower part contains the integrated console. The design limits itself to simple modern shapes with the steep upward curves picking up elements of the gothic choir vault and lending it a lively elegance. The pipe flats stand slightly forward and enhance the view from the side. Red surfaces behind the pipes together with gilded pipe-mouths and Zimbelstern offer a contrasting accent to the white finish of the case.


I. Werck C-a3

  1. Prinzipal 8‘ (Prospekt)
  2. Coppel 8’
  3. Octav 4’
  4. Rohrflet 4’
  5. Quinta 3’
  6. Superoctav 2’
  7. Tertia 1 3/5’
  8. Sifflet 1’
  9. Krummhorn 8’

II. Manual C-a3

elektrisch mit Druckpunktsimulation
zur Ansteuerung der künftigen Hauptorgel
(Registerbedienung per Touch-Display)

Pedal C-f1

  1. Subbaß 16’


Koppeln im Positiv:
I-P (mechanisch), P-I (elektrisch)

Koppeln zwischen Positiv und Hauptorgel (vorbereitet, elektrisch):
HW-I, SW-I, HW-II, SW-II, Ped-Ped

Mechanisch umschaltbare Stimmung von „Janke III“ auf „Mitteltönig aus Temperatur Janke III“

Zimbelstern mit 6 Schalenglocken


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