Sounds of the Sample Set

The organ in the Martini Church of Groningen has the fame to be one of the most beautiful organs in the world. It is evident from the visits that famous organists from many countries bring to Groningen to play this organ.

When Jiri Zurek met the organ in January 2019, the sounds made a deep impression on him. Each tone manifested itself relaxed and colorful. He had to use all his skills to capture these sounds equally in the samples. When playing in the living room they have to sound in their full splendor. He worked for a year to achieve this goal and each sample was evaluated by Sietze de Vries, the organist of the Martini Church.

I know the sounds as these sound in Martini Church very well and then it is a great pleasure that they can be heard in my living room exactly like this. I installed the convolution reverb of the Martini Church, making them sound in their natural environment.
It is the best way to transfer the sounds of the church organ to the living room faithfully.

                                                                    Sample Set Martini organ

Back to the historical sounds

In the second half of the last century, the realization grew among organ scientists and organ builders, that the art of organ making had been completely lost. The only way to rediscover it was a thorough study of baroque organs that had retained their original form. Groningen and the Environment formed an ideal area for this purpose. In the 17th century, many wealthy farmers donated an organ to the church. Nowhere are so many baroque organs built than in this area. Later, there was no money left to transform or replace the organs to new ideas. And so a valuable reference point had emerged to rediscover the old style.

Epoch-making work was done by the organ scientist Cornelius H. Edskes in Groningen. In a years-long study, he intensively investigated the historical organs that had retained their original state. It is not only the pipes, but also the whole connection between pipes, bellows, valves, wind chests, keyboards and the tracker action plus the appearance of the organ cabinet that determine the sounds of the organ.

After a thorough examination of the entire construction, Cor Edskes found that the undoing of disastrous renovation of 1939 was possible. The organ could be returned to the state of the historic Baroque organ that had always been. It would be an ambitious and labor-intensive work and take the utmost of an organ builder's ability to implement it. How the restoration had to be carried out he described in a meticulously elaborate plan.

A special story is the Speelfluit 4'. The register from 1542, was removed by Van Oeckelen, except for the gis1, this was taken by a town hall employee. A conical pipe with a small funnel at the top and a mild sound. Later this pipe was kept in the Groninger museum. The pipe was ceded to Cor Edskes who calculated the register based on this pipe.

It was established to him that only one organ builder was capable of doing so: Jürgen Ahrend in Leer, Germany. There was no organ builder who had more knowledge of the organ architecture of the past centuries and who had the ability to voice every pipe to his original sound idiom.

Cor Edskes and Jürgen Ahrend examined each part of the organ to bring it back to its original state. Cor Edskes wrote a detailed work plan and Jürgen Ahrend dared to implement this plan. Because of their joint effort, the Martini organ was once given the place it once had, the magnificent Baroque organ with Gothic and Renaissance characteristics, unique in the Netherlands.

The restoration of the organ happened in two phases. In 1976 the Rugwerk was restored. The goal was to rebuild the mechanical tract, the construction of a new bellows and the restoration of the wind drawers. The reconstruction had the situation of the year 1740 as a starting point.
Then Anthonie Hinsz, pupil of Schnitger, had put the organ in perfect condition. In addition, some registers of Lohman van Van Oeckelen were preserved.

The beautiful resonance of old pipes is always preserved. The oldest pipes were made by Then Damme more than 500 years ago. In the centuries that followed, several organ makers added registers. During the restoration, all the pipes were voiced by Jürgen Ahrend, he understood the art of gives the pipes made by different organ makers in former centuries, their own sound back and yet they sounded harmoniously. He gave the organ his signature as well as Arp Schnitger had done in 1692.

The same situation I had found at the Schnitger organ in Norden (Dld) where Jürgen Ahrend had merged three styles of former builders. I played on that organ for hours and heard the small, yet well distinguishable differences between the Principals of Andreas de Mare, Edo Evers and Arp Schnitger. When merging these registers, they sound harmonious.

Jürgen Ahrend has determined the current sound of the Martini organ, in unrivalled collaboration with Cor Edskes. The special features of five centuries of organ art, merged into one organ make it a unique instrument.
Nowhere in the world an organ can be found with such a wide historical sound palette.

Cor Edskes has worked tirelessly for decades to recover the historical organ heritage and he laid the foundation for how these organs should be restored. The great fame that the organ obtained is mainly due to him. In 1996, the University of Gothenburg quite rightly granted him the honorary doctorate.

Jürgen Ahrend, is recognized as the best organ builder of this time. At the Martini organ he joined five centuries of organ architecture into a monumental organ with an impressive character.

Two icons that have prepared the way for the next generation of organ builders

Quintadena    16'
Prestant          8'
Bourdon          8'
Roerfluyt         8' Octaav            4'
Speelfluyt        4'
Nasat             3'
Gedacktquint    3'
Octaav            2'
Fluyt               2'
Sexquialter     II
Mixtuur      IV-VI
Cimbel           III
Basson          16'
Schalmey        8'
Hautbois         8
History of the Organ in Groningen (Nld)

The history of the organ in the Martini church starts 570 years ago, when Master Hermannus in 1450 built an organ on a new gallery to replace the previous organ.
Eighteen years later, the tower collapsed and although the organ had not been touched, it had to be disassembled for the restoration of the church. Johann then Damme from Appingedam rebuilt the organ in 1482 and expanded it with a Positive.
The adviser was the humanist and organist Rudolphus Agricola. His name is shown on the cartouche under the Positive.

The organ front mentions the year 1542 when the Gothic organ was converted into Renaissance style by a skilled but undocumented organ builder. At the same time, the organ was expanded with a Upper Organ. However, the Gothic framework for the organ cabinet is almost completely preserved.

Further additions were made around 1564 by Andreas de Mare and in 1627/28 by Anthoni and Adam Verbeeck. From 1685 to 1690 Jan Helman performed elaborate works, such as new bellows, keyboards and spring chests for the main work and the pedal, but he died in 1690 without having completed the work.

The church board then contacted Arp Schnitger, who completed the work in 1692. He built two large pedal towers on both sides of the organ and placed the pipes of the Prestant 32'. The large pipes were made in the church, where the shipmasts were used to bend metal around. The alloy for the pipes had a high lead content. Schnitger also built three reed registers, a new wind chest for the upper organ and he lowered the pitch by moving the pipes one step. All pipes were voiced in the style of Arp Schnitger. He indicated his signature, so it was justified to call the organ a Schnitger organ.

Franz Caspar, the son of Schnitger, built in 1728 new wind chests for the main work and the pedal, as well as a new positive in a case with woodcarving. After the death of Franz Caspar Schnitger the work in 1730 was completed by Master Albert Anthony Hinsz. In 1740 Hinsz installed seven new registers and now the organ had 47 registers.

In the 19th century, the organ was adapted to the changing style insights. The organ makers Nicolaus Lohman (1830) and Peter van Oeckelen (1852) made changes to the registers and extended the organ to 52 registers. The sounds were adapted to the style of that time and did not differ to a large extent from the Baroque style.

In 1939 the organ was modernized and provided with an electrical console. Historical ethics was defeated by flaunting a newfangled madness.
Dr. Gustav Fock and George Stam, both connoisseurs of Arp Schitger's organ art of organ building, have strongly urged not to carry out this disastrous renovation. Unfortunately, the Dutch Clock and Organ Council ordered De Koff to rebuild the organ according to their modern views.

Prestant I-III    8'
Holfluyt            8'
Octaav             4'
Nasat              3'
Sexquialter      II
Mixtuur       IV-VI
Trompet         16'
Vox Humana     8'
Prestant         16'
Octaav            8'
Salicet             8'
Quintadena      8'
Gedackt           8'
Octaav             4'
Gedektfluyt      4'
Octaav            2'
Vlakfluyt          2'
Tertiaan           II
Mixtuur       IV-VI
Scharp            III
Viola da Gamba 8'
Trompet           8
Prestant        32'
Prestant        16'
Subbas          16'
Octaav            8'
Gedackt          8'
Roerquint        6'
Octaav            4'
Octaav            2'
Nagthoorn      2'
Mixtuur          IV 
Bazuyn          16'
Dulciaan        16'
Trompet         8'
Cornet           4'
Cornet           2'

Bazuyn          32'
The book about working with the sample set of the organ in the Martini church of Groningen is in operation