With the construction of the new organ, we would like to contribute to the glory of St. Vitus Cathedral and the famed musical tradition of our nation.
Cardinal Dominik Duka OP
24. dubna 2017 v 16:00 se v katedrále sv. Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha za přítomnosti držitelů klíčů od Korunní komory a dalších představitelů kulturního a politického života naší země uskuteční slavnostní podpis smlouvy s firmou, která v Praze varhany postaví. V tento den se tak veřejnost dozví její jméno. K účasti na tomto aktu jste všichni srdečně zváni.
Thanks to the Prague Castle Administration and the State President Office the preparatory construction works that are needed for the building of the new St Vitus organ have started these days. On the western organ loft gallery the walls and the arch are being cleaned and conserved and, at the same time, the rosette is being partially repaired.
On 19 March, Czech Television 2nd Channel broadcast approximately 30-minute documentary on new St. Vitus Organ. The documentary can now be accessed here.
Since the mid December last year, when an open letter to villages, towns and cities was signed by the Archbishop Dominik Duka OP and the Chairman of The Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic František Lukl, in which they called upon the mayors to support the project of building of organ for the St. Vitus Cathedral, 79 municipalities have already joined the support and their contribution is 214,870 crowns in total. Thank you!
It would be difficult to find a structure in our country, which could be the equal of the cathedral of St. Vitus. It is a spiritual institution that shapes our relationship with the Creator. It is the first basilica in the country. Moreover, while it may be seen as a visual textbook of Christianity, at the same time it is at the crossroads of our history, where decisions were made about historical outcomes in our land. It is one of the greatest works of art in our country, which in a minute space, concentrates many artistic stages in many contexts. The cathedral is a visual witness to past events and helped to shape our own identity. It is also, however, a living organism, which evolved over half a millennium and even today is still not complete.
It is hard to imagine Prague today without the silhouette of the cathedral. And yet, this silhouette actually looked quite different until recent times. Half of the building (the nave) was missing and was not completed till 1929. The Metropolitan Church is such monumental work, that it will probably never be absolutely completed. Nevertheless, something very significant is missing to this day because, at the completion of construction, there were insufficient funds to install a new organ in the western choir loft of the cathedral. Several attempts have been made; all have been unsuccessful. Finally, today we have a new opportunity. It is up to us to in a time of peace and freedom to fulfill the legacy of our predecessors, in particular, that of the father of the nation, Charles IV and to ‘complete’ the cathedral.
The organ, because of its magnificence, is called the ‘king of instruments’. But is not the instrument of earthly kings for the organ speaks in the voice of God that sometimes gently whispers and infuses our soul with peaceful joy and at other times roars and thunders, sending shivers up our spine. The beauty of the organ lies in the fact that in spite of its monumentality it fulfills the word of Him who did not come to be served, but to serve. Anyone who listens to the music of the organ, is taught humility. It leads one to the art of listening and of harmonizing one’s relationship with his neighbor through singing and prayer. The organ leads us to a more genuine relationship not only with God, but also with our neighbor. For this reason, we want to work together to contribute to the glory of God, to the renown of St. Vitus Cathedral and to the further evolution of the famous musical traditions of our nation.
Dominik Duka OP, Cardinal Archbishop of Prague
The idea of building a new grand organ, however, never ceased and repeatedly emerged only to be shelved as a result of adverse socio-political circumstances, years of war and because of postwar conditions. Ultimately plans were postponed until more favorable times.
A new instrument may be regarded as a testimony to the capabilities, experience and knowledge of the present generation as well as acting as a legacy to future generations.
After the collapse of the project to build a ‘grand’ organ and at a time when only eight months remained to the scheduled consecration of the cathedral in May 1929, the architect, Hilbert, under time pressure, suggested the construction of a ‘provisional’ instrument with two manuals and 35 registers, on the lower level of the Wohlmut choir loft. Josef Melzer was chosen to build the instrument as there were no complaints about the firm’s lack of ‘Czechness’
Even though the organ was expanded by five registers, while still under construction, it was further pointed out that placing such a small organ under the low vault of the choir loft, would leave it in an acoustical dead spot and fears grew that the project would end in disgrace. The Cathedral Chapter, aware of the potential disgrace, agreed to release extra funds to increase the number of manuals by one. It also allowed the console to be built in such a manner as to enable future extensions to the instrument…..
Since the consecration of St. Vitus Cathedral in 1369 up until the present day, the sound of more than ten instruments has filled the vaulted interior of the church. They were not only ‘grand’ organs which accompanied Sunday liturgies, celebrations and special occasions, but also smaller instruments for everyday use.
Of some of these instruments, we only know that they existed in the cathedral and perhaps also who commissioned them. Other instruments however, are not only indelibly linked with the history of the cathedral, but were also renowned all over the then known world for their great size and monumentality.
The organ is the largest and most complicated of all musical instrument, which more than other instrument, is capable of arousing powerful emotions. The old chronicles enthuse about the sound that is similar ‘to thunder, the shimmer of the zither and the magic of a carillon’. Because of its size and also its origins, the organ is often called the ‘king of instruments’. Until the mid-18th century, it was considered to be the most complex instrument ever to have been invented and constructed by mankind.
The organ has evolved over thousands of years and in Europe, that is, in Christian culture, and has a very long tradition as a liturgical, in some regions even as a concert instrument. One of the most renowned pinnacles in its development was during the Baroque period which was inspired by many great musicians and composers – Johann Sebastian Bach, to name one of many. Since that time, it has evolved further to become the largest and most versatile musical instrument of all.
The Endowment Fund was established by the Saint Vitus Organ Act No. 227/1997 Coll. entered in the Foundation Register kept by the Municipal Court in Prague, sp. zn. N, 19 December 1123. March 2014.
The identification number of the Endowment Fund is 02794471.
The bank account number of the Endowment Fund is 2109930876/2700.
The registered office of the Endowment Fund is Hradčany, Hradčanské náměstí 56/16, 119 02 Prague 1, Czech Republic
The purpose of the Endowment Fund is the acquisition of a new representative organ for St. Vitus Cathedral.