V prosinci 2020 proběhlo v katedrále měření, které na objednávku Nadačního fondu Svatovítské varhany provedla společnost INSET s.r.o.
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Milí mecenáši a přátelé našeho společného projektu stavby svatovítských varhan.Děkujeme za Vaši srdečnou přízeň během tohoto roku, který před nás kladl nové výzvy. I přes nepříznivou situaci se daří na svatovítských varhanách provádět práce vedoucí k zajištění západní kruchty. Věříme, že nový rok 2021 přinese nové příležitosti a zdárné dokončení stavby varhan.
Vydavatelství a nakladatelství Českého rozhlasu vyhlašuje výsledky skladatelské soutěže o původní českou skladbu pro nové varhany katedrály sv. Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha, kterou pořádá společně s Nadačním fondem Svatovítské varhany a nadačním fondem Bohemian Heritage Fund.
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 the building of a new organ never disappeared completely: it repeatedly re-emerged, only to be postponed to more favourable times as a result of adverse society-wide events of the war years and also due to the post-war conditions.
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.
The organ building company of Gerhard Grenzing is one of the most experienced companies in this field: it has successfully completed 220 restoration and building projects across continents.
After the project of a grand organ fell through when there were hardly 8 months left until the consecration of the temple planned for May 1929, architect Hilbert suggested the building of a “temporary” instrument with two manuals and 35 registers for the lower Wohlmut’s choir-loft. It was supposed to have been built by Josef Melzer whose “Czechness” wasn’t disputed by anyone.
Even after the instrument was extended by five registers already during the building, it was pointed out that such a small instrument would be in an acoustic shadow under the low vault and there were reasonable concerns that the project would end in disgrace. The cathedral chapter was well-aware of this and in spring 1929, it eventually agreed to provide extra funds to increase the number of manuals by one. It also permitted for the console to be built in such a manner as to enable future extensions of the instrument.
Since the time of the consecration of the St. Vitus Cathedral in 1369 all the way to the present day, tones of more than ten instruments have sounded under the cathedral’s vault.
It wasn’t only the “grand” organ that served for the accompaniment of Sunday Masses, celebrations and significant events, but smaller instruments for everyday use were also used.
Of some of these instruments we know only that they used to stand in the cathedral and perhaps also who acquired them. Other instruments are not only indelibly ingrained in the history of the cathedral, but they became known around the whole world for their size and monumentality.
The pipe organ is the largest and most complex musical instrument, which arouses big emotions more than any other instrument. Old records of chroniclers speak with great excitement about the sound which “resembles the peals of thunder, the quivers of a zither and the charm of the chimes”. For its size, but also its origin, it tends to be called a “royal” instrument. Up until the mid-18th century, it was considered the most complex machine that the man has ever conceived and built.
The organ went through thousand-years of development and it has a very long tradition in the European, that is, the Christian tradition, as a liturgical and in some regions also a concert instrument. Up to the present day, it saw one of its significant high points in Baroque. Inspired by many great artists and composers – let us mention Johann Sebastian Bach for all – the organ has progressed all the way to the largest musical instrument that is also extremely versatile.
The St. Vitus Organ Fund was established in accordance with Act No. 227/1997 Sb. by its registration into the fund registry administered by the Municipal Court in Prague, file ref. N 1123, on 19 March 2014.
The registration number of the fund is 02794471.
The bank account of the fund is 2109930876/2700.
Registered office: Hradčanské náměstí 56/16, 119 02 Prague 1 – Hradčany
Purpose of the fund: acquisition of a new representative organ for the St. Vitus Cathedral
Coordinator of the Organ for the Cathedral project
phone: +420 733 164 063
Members of the Managing Board:
Members of the Supervisory Board:
Project press agent
telefon: +420 734 335 438
Contact for others parties involved in the Organ for the Cathedral project:
Vice-chairman of the Supervisory Board
telefon: +420 737 215 326
Bohemian Heritage Fund
The Current Organ - The Melzer Organ
With the advancing completion of the Cathedral in the early years of the 20th century, the question arose as to the acquisition of a "decent" organ for the "Basilica Major of Saint Vitus at Prague Castle ". In addition to the construction and equipment of the interior of the Cathedral, the Association for the Construction of the Basilica was entrusted with the acquisition of the new grand organ, under the general responsibility of the architect, Kamil Hilbert.
Until 1923, debate and discussion centered around a major conversion and extension of the Gartner Baroque organ located on the upper level of the re-sited choir loft by Wohlmut. More specifically, consideration was given to the use of the old organ pipes and other parts of the mechanism for the construction of the new instrument.
However, the situation was more complex, and the ideas and interests of the various interested parties were very different. Three areas were available for the new organ: the western choir loft, constructed by the architect Josef Mocker, the upper and lower levels of the Wohlmut choir loft and the space above the St. Wenceslas Chapel. There were three conflicting requirements. The first was a space to accommodate the organ, singers and musicians in one place. Secondly, the artistic ideas of various interested parties and thirdly, the differing ideas about the function of the instrument. The potential outcome was also influenced by the directors of the Association for the Completion of the Cathedral, that the work was to be done by a domestic firm, which also had to give an undertaking that all the parts used in the instrument were of domestic manufacture.
Naturally, large domestic organ manufacturers competed for the contract by offering ‘attractive prices’ and by lobbying through various associations related to politicians and organ ‘experts’ with the aim of gaining the contract. In an attempt to eliminate the competition, they did not hesitate to play the ‘Nationalist’ and ‘Jewish’ cards, which resonated strongly among some of the members of the Association for the Construction of the Cathedral.
In these circumstances, the architect Kamil Hilbert turned to the generally recognized pipe organ expert and virtuoso, Professor Bedřich A. Wiedermann, who, in 1928, had been entrusted by the Association with making recommendations about the disposition and arrangement of the new instrument. Already earlier in 1926, Hilbert had consulted with Wiedermann on a number of issues regarding the placement of the new organ and gradually a proposition had crystallized for a gigantic instrument to be installed in four different locations in the cathedral comprising a central console of five manuals and a total of 229 stops.
Wiedermann’s proposal was accepted by the organ authorities of the time who appreciated the modernity and the careful planning of the disposition of the instrument. In August, 1928, this proposal became the basis for the selection of an organ manufacturer. Although the instrument had been allocated quite a substantial amount of money, Hilbert suspected that this would be insufficient for such a large instrument and therefore asked Widermannn to prepare the specifications for a smaller organ with four manuals and 130 registers.
Several domestic companies were invited to submit tenders. The tenders were to include proposals for a large and a smaller instrument. The companies invited to tender included Emmanuel Š. Petr from Prague, Joseph Melzer of Kutna Hora and the brothers Rieger from Krnov. In the course of the selection process friction occurred between the members of the selection committee of the Association, fanned by the ‘Nationalist’ question and artistic rivalry. Rieger submitted the cheapest bid for both versions of the organ and also had by far the best testimonials and reviews. The majority of the selection committee was against the Rieger proposal for the reasons given above. They also attacked the suitability of the Wiedermann disposition for the organ including its appropriateness for concert and liturgical use. Further, they were prejudiced against the electro-mechanical action proposed and they were unhappy about contraventions to church rules in regard to music and liturgy etc. Hilbert, frustrated and exhausted and 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, according to the disposition set out by Professor Wiedermann. Josef Melzer was chosen to build the instrument as there were no complaints about the firm’s lack of ‘Czechness’. The instrument was planned for completion by the end of June 1929. Professor Wiedermann, unhappy with the way matters were unfolding, withdrew from the project leaving it to be salvaged by the cathedral organist, Antonin Janda.
From the start, it was clear to Janda that such a small instrument was inadequate and so he pushed to increase the number of registers by five. Even so, it was pointed out that such a small organ, located under the low vault of the choir loft, would be in an acoustical shadow and fears grew that the project would end in disgrace. The directors of the Association no longer wanted anything further to do with the organ, as they claimed that they had fulfilled their obligations by ordering an instrument. Subsequently, the Cathedral Chapter, aware of the potential disgrace and following pressure from Janda, 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. The original completion date of June 1929 was stretched to October 1930, when the part of the instrument ordered by Janda was completed. It took another year to complete the entire organ.
The current Melzer instrument has three manuals and a total of 58 registers. It stands on the lower level of the Wohlmut choir loft and the asymmetrical organ case indicates the space made available for future expansion of the instrument. Because the projected extensions to the pedal board never eventuated, the current disposition of the pedal board is unbalanced and even with the use of couplers, the pedal section lacks power. Moreover, the unsuitable location of the instrument under a low vault prevents the organ sound from adequately filling the great space of the basilica.
The appointment of the firm Melzer to build the organ proved to be an unfortunate decision. As early as 1938 the instrument had to be repaired after suffering serious breakdowns. The next scheduled repairs, planned for 1951, had to be postponed due to the negative impact of the monetary reforms. In the 1960’s the cooperative organ firm, Igra Praha, performed required repairs and these continued to be necessary every decade.
During the restoration of the instrument during the years 2000-2001, carried out by the organ building and reconstruction company Kánský-Brachtl , the full extent of poor workmanship, which did not reflect even the basic standard of craftsmanship of the period, as well as the unsatisfactory standard of materials used throughout the instrument, was made abundantly clear. Only through careful and demanding restoration work was this ‘provisional’ instrument able to fulfill its function as the main organ of the cathedral to the present day.
|I.Manual, C – g´´´´||II.Manual, C – g´´´´||III.Manual, C – g´´´´||Pedal, C – g´|
|Bourdon 16´||Principal 16´||Kvintaton 16´||Violonbas 16´|
|Principál 8´||Salicet 16´||Principál housl. 8´||Subbas 16´|
|Oktáva 8´||Diapason 8´||Principál flét. 8´||Kryt tichý 16´|
|Viola 8´||Violon 8´||Gamba 8´||Bas flétnový 8´|
|Roh 8´||Kryt dvojitý 8´||Aeolina 8´||Bas oktávový 8´|
|Dolce 8´||Portunál 8´||Voix celest 8´||Cello 8´|
|Flétna dutá 8´||Amabilis 8´||Roh lesní 8´||Bombard 16´|
|Flétna jemná 8´||Tibia 8´||Kryt jemný 8´|
|Kryt hrubý 8´||Salicionál 8´||Flétna sólová 8´|
|Prestant 4´||Kvinta 5 1/3´||Oktáva 4´|
|Flétna rourková 4´||Fugara 4´||Violino 4´|
|Kvinta šustivá 2 2/3´||Copula 4´||Flétna traversa 4´|
|Mixtura 2 2/3´||Kvinta 2 2/3´||Kvinta 2 2/3´|
|Tromba 8´||Picola 2´||Flageolet 2´|
|Clairon 4´||Tercie 1 3/5´||Tercie 1 3/5´|
|Dulciana 8´||Hoboe 8´|
|Roh farncouzský 8´||Klarinet 8´|
|Aeolus 8´ (zvonkohra)|