Arp Schnitger organ Steinkirchen

In 1522 a small organ was made by an unknown organ builder in Steinkirchen, the first organ in the Alte Land. The register Octav 4' and Octav 2' from this first organ has been preserved and are still in organ made by Arp Schnitger. Gothic letters are attached to the pipes of the Octav 4'.

In 1581, Dirck Hoyer in Hamburg (son-in-law of the organ builder Jacob Scherer) was commissioned to expand the old organ with a second manual. In the main work of the existent organ the registers Quintadena 16 ', Rohr Flöt 8' and Nassat 3' are still present; in the Positive the Krumphorn 8' is still there. Register that have been played for more than 400 years and still in a good condition, produce an unprecedented wealth of sound.

In 1685 Arp Schnitger was given commission to build a new organ on the new build West Gallery. Schnitger built an organ with Hauptwerk, Brustwerk and pedal. The pedal stops he placed in the free-standing pedal towers, one of the few Schnitger organs with has free-standing pedal towers. The six centuries-old registers which are referred were placed in this organ.

1947/1948 Rudolf von Beckerath in Hamburg was working on the organ. This was done with great respect for the art of organ building of Arp Schnitger, who is admitted as the most important organ builders from the Baroque period. Thus, the sound of this instrument was very well conserved and far-reaching changes have been avoided.

Rudolf von Beckerath (Hamburg) restored the organ in 1987; he replaced the original Schnitger keyboards and reconstructed the bellows.

A careful total restoration was carried out in 2012. This was done by Rowan West (Altenahr). The wind pressure is then reduced (74 mm WC), the organ got a new Mixtur, the pitch has been adjusted (3/4Ton above normal, Bach-Kellner) and the exact age of the pipes has been determined accurately.

 1. Gedackt           8’
 2. Rohr-Flöth        4’
 3. Quinte             3’
 4. Octav              2’
 5. Spitz-Flöth       2’
 6. Tertzian      2 Fach
 7. Scharf  3 - 5 Fach
 8. Krumphorn        8’

Tremulant hele orgel
 1. Principal         16’
 2. Octav             8’
 3. Octav             4’
 4. Nachthorn       2’
 5. Rausch-Pfeiffe 2 F. 
 6. Mixtur     4 - 5 F.
 7. Posaun           16’
 8. Trompet          8’
 9. Cornett           2’


Sounds of a Sample set

Helmut Maier of OAM (Organ Art Media) has stored the sounds of this particular Arp Schnitger-organ in the samples. He uses an old fashion stereo system, where the microphones are placed in a dummy-head. The broadcasting and sound studios has ever started with this stereo system but because it failed, it was replaced by more advanced techniques. Unfortunately, he is the only one who persist in the dummy head system.

Maier edited the samples for listening with headphones. The people who buy his sample set he recommends emphatically to listen the samples exclusively with headphones, taking only one brand and type to its requirements

However, two universities (Erasmus in Rotterdam and the University of Leuven), show that the use of headphones cause hearing damage. It's a compelling reason never to use a set of headphones.

The best alternative is to hear two speakers on short distance and at ear level of the organist. I have substantially changed the samples so that they are adapted for playback with loudspeakers.

I have succeeded to a certain degree, but who wants to enjoy the richness of the Schnitger organ, can do it much better with the sample set that Sonus Paradisi has made of the organ in Zwolle.

I have described my editing of the samples of Steinkirchen in a book. It is free to It is free to request with a mention of the E-Mail address and the complete postal address. Send an e-mail to:                                                                                                        John Boersma

 1. Quintadena        16‘
 2. Principal              8‘
 3. Rohr Flöt             8‘
 4. Octav                 4‘
 5. Nassat                3‘
 6. Octav                 2‘
 7. Gemshorn            2‘
 8. Sexqvialtera  2 fach
 9. Mixtur     4 - 6 fach
10. Cimbel         3 fach
11. Trompet             8’
Arp Schnitger  

Arp Schnitger can be named rightfully the best North German organ builder of the Baroque. Most organs were built for Northern Germany, but also in Netherlands and especially in Groningen various organs of him are founded. 

The music of the Baroque era by Dietrich Buxtehude and contemporaries were best represented by sounds of organs, which were built by Arp Schnitger.

The organologen Cor Edskes and Harold Vogel made detailed inquiry of the organs of Arp Schnitger and have determined that Schnitger was the best North German organ builder of the Baroque. Jürgen Ahrend organ builder has restored many Schnitger organs in cooperation with Cor Edskes and discovered again the making of an organ, which had been lost in the past centuries.

The organ builder Albert Reil and Han Reil searched together with Klaas Bolt to the art of the Schnitger organ and they copied a Schnitger organ as a study object. The aim was not copying but kapieren, the German word for understanding. Also in South and East Germany, Austria, France and Italy they studied the organs of the Baroque period. They brought the art of organ building with the newfound insight on a higher level and Organ Building Reil created organs with better properties than the historic organs. A trend that is still continued by the present management.

Bernhardt Edskes believes that Schnitger 300 years ago has reached the peak of the Baroque organ art and after Schnitger there has never been a better organ builder. Edskes himself has never tried to find new ways, he just copied Schnitger organs. In addition, he believes that Bach's music sounds best when it is played on an organ by Schnitger.

His view is unrealistic, in the Baroque period, there were several good organ builders. Heinrich Trost, Gottfried Silbermann and Zacharias Hildebrandt built organs with strong musical expressiveness. The Zacharias Hildebrandt organ (1746) of Naumburg (St. Wenzel) is the only one of its kind worldwide, which was developed according to the sound ideas of Bach. Bach was significantly involved in the planning. The examination was done by Gottfried Silbermann, his former teacher and Johann Sebastian Bach and both were unanimous that the organ was very well build.

"Always a man should use his resourcefulness and then he might discover a new world with an unexpected beauty."   (words by Albert Reil).

The sound of every stop of this organ can be heard separated at the CD and is a good resource in the adjustment of the samples.
The CD ist available at:
                          Orgel CD   Nr. 40
Sample set of a Schnitger Organ

The beautiful sounds of Schnitger are exquisitely recorded and stored in the samples by Jiri Zurek of Sonus Paradisi. He has situated the microphones exactly where the organist in the church them hears also as he sits at the console. There, he is inspired to make music with these sounds.

After careful examinations on my Hauptwerk organ and the organ’s of friends, the set of the Schnitger organ in Zwolle proved to be the best set of an organ.


Praestant 8’
Quintadena 8'
Roerfluit 8'
Octaav 4'
Fluit 4'
Quintfluit 3'
Superoctaav 2'
Sexquialtera II
Scherp IV
Cimbel III
Fagot 16'
Schalmey 8'
Arp Schnitger-orgel 1721   
                                                St. Michaeliskirche in Zwolle

The Schnitger organ in the great or St. Michaelis Church in Zwolle is one of the most important organs of the 18th century. The organ was in 1719 designed by Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), the best organ builder in the North German area.

The art of Organ Building fell under the influence of new techniques (pneumatics and electricity) into disrepair. Around 1930, the "organ movement" was a realization that one had to rediscover the ancient art. Making a copy of well preserved organs from earlier centuries was the only way to rediscover the lost art of organ building and organ sound. The organ made by Arp Schnitger were very suitable. Cor Edskes, Klaas bolt and Harold Vogel have done profound research. Jürgen Ahrend, Albert and Han Reil, Bernhardt Edskes have built organs in the North German style.

Arp Schnitger had acquired great fame as an organ builder in Hamburg. He was known in the Netherlands also and had a workshop in Groningen. The organ of the Martini church in Groningen is no real Schnitger organ. However, Arp Schnitger has built the 32 foot pedal towers plus some registers.

In 1718 he was invited by the City Council of Zwolle to create a design. Arp Schnitger offered the City Council a comprehensive plan for the construction of a large organ and received the contract for the construction of this organ according to his plan.

Arp Schnitger died a few months later, and his sons Franz and Johann Schnitger have completed the construction of this organ. The organ is with 64 registers the largest Schnitger organ.

Praestant 8'
Holpyp 8'
Viola 8'
Quinta 6'
Octaav 4'
Holpyp 4'
Quinta 3'
Superoctaav 2'
Woudfluit 2'
Sifflet 1 1/2'
Tertiaan II
Scherp V
Viola di Gamba 8'
Trompet 4'
Praestant 16'
Quintadena 16'
Octaav 8'
Roerfluit 8'
Octaav 4'
Speelfluit 4'
Nasaat 3'
Superoctaav 2'
Ruyschpijp II
Mixtuur VI
Cimbel III
Trompet 16'
Trompet 8'
Vox humana 8
Fluitgedekt 8'
Praestant 4'
Roerfluit 4'
Spitsfluit 3'
Superoctaav 2'
Gemshoorn 2'
Quintanus 1 1/2'
Nachthoorn 1'
Sexquialtera II
Mixtuur III-IV
Dulciaan 8'
Regaal 8'
Praestant 16'
Subbas 16'
Octaav 8'
Holpyp 8'
Superoctaav 4'
Vlakfluit 2'
Mixtuur VIII
Fagot 32'
Basuin 16'
Trompet 8'
Trompet 4'
Cornet 2'