Zum Inhalt springen

Blog & Streams

Organ Day at Elbphilharmonie

On 11 February 2018, we devote a whole day to the king of all instruments.

There’s nothing this organ can’t do.

Organistin Iveta Apkalna

Organ Day Giveaway

Want to win concert tickets for Organ Day? Then take on the challenge set by our organists and send us your song requests! What piece of music would you most like to hear played on the Elbphilharmonie organ?

Be creative and take part! Just post your request in the comments below our Facebook post or send us an email with the subject line »Giveaway Organ Day« to socialmedia@elbphilharmonie.de. Deadline: 16:59 on 7 February 2018

A majestic instrument

Mozart called it »the king of instruments«: the pipe organ. The Elbphilharmonie organ measures 15 x 15 metres and weighs 25 tons; 45 organ builders spent 25,000 man-hours constructing it. A majestic musical instrument, brought to life in the Organ Workshop Philipp Klais in Bonn, Germany.

Iveta Apkalna

Voicing the Organ

Like any instrument, the organ needs tuning before it can first be played. But where guitarists just turn six tuning pegs, and a trumpeter pushes the slide to and fro for a moment, tuning an organ properly calls for a whole team of experts. The new organ in the Elbphilharmonie has no fewer than 4,765 pipes, and thousands of adjustments and a lot of perseverance is needed until each individual pipe sounds just the way in the Grand Hall that organ builder Philipp Klais intended it to.

It took three months to set the instrument up in the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall. And even once all the pipes were in place and working properly, the organ builders’ labours weren't over: there followed another three months of voicing work, where every individual pipe was checked once more and its sound meticulously adjusted to fit the surroundings.

Philipp C.A. Klais

Elbphilharmonie organist, Iveta Apkalna, believes that all the fine-tuning paid off: »There’s nothing this organ can’t do! It sounds warm and round, with lots of beautiful key tones that come from all over, and from the depths. This sound embraces the audience!«

An exciting hall requires an equally exciting organ!

Orgelbauer Philipp Klais

You can feel this organ in your bones. As soon as the instrument is switched on, you can feel it breathing, how it braces its muscles and gets ready to fill the hall with music.

Thomas Cornelius, organist and composer

The key tones embrace the hall like froth and warm the ears.

Iveta Apkalna

Mini Pipe Organ Encyclopaedia

Divisions: groups of organ stops, usually classified according to pipe type.
Facade: the visible portion of the organ’s casing.
Fernwerk: four ranks of pipes that are located away from the rest of the organ and its other pipes – in the case of the Elbphilharmonie organ, packed away inside the reflector that hangs from the ceiling of the hall – and produce exciting sound effects.
Manuals: the "keyboards" of the organ; the Elbphilharmonie organ has four manualsa and each manual has 61 keys.
Pedals: keys played with the feet; usually connected to bass tones historically.
Principal: the most important organ stop – consisting of the core components of every organ.
Stop: a rank of pipes consisting of the same material, shape and sound.
The Swell: a division of pipes stored in a large wooden box with shutters; the volume can be regulated by opening and closing the shutters.
Tracker: a long, thin strip of wood connected to a key, valve and one or more pipes.
Tracker action: organ's complete transmission system from console to the pipe's valves; mechanic, pneumatic or electric.
Wind: air blown through the pipes to produce tones.
Wind chests: distributes wind to different pipes of the same pitch.

Incidentally: German organ craftsmanship and music has been awarded a place on UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list. Learn more in theARD feature from 7 December 2017(German only).