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 organ is composed of the organ case and the organ mechanism.
The Organ Case
The organ case is what we see when we look at an ‘organ’. The mechanism of the organ, bar a few exceptions, is hidden within this organ case.
The organ case has several functions. First, to protect the mechanism, especially the organ pipes, contained within the case, from dust contamination or even falling plaster. Secondly, the case exists to prevent entry by unauthorized persons into the organ mechanism. Thirdly, the case limits the damaging effects of the sun’s rays on the surface of the pipes and other sensitive parts of the mechanism. The organ builder must choose the most advantageous placement of the organ case, or as in some examples, the distribution of the instrument into several cases, in order to achieve the best direction and distribution of the sound of the organ. Last but not least, the organ case fulfills an aesthetic function and as the dominant feature of the western choir, acts as a counterweight to the main altar in the eastern section of the church. The organ case can be and often is richly decorated with carvings and statues.
The Organ Mechanism
The console is the part of the organ from which the organist controls the instrument. In this he is aided by one or more keyboards, similar to those in a piano, called manuals, on which he plays with his hands. Apart from this there is a keyboard, with a similar layout but understandably of a larger size, which is played by the feet and called a Pedalboard. Also there is a whole series of stops, levers, buttons and switches and other devices which must be controlled by the organist. The latter serve for the setting of various registers with the aim of changing the tonal quality and power of the sound and also as aids to allow fast and easy changes of the sound of the instrument.
The console can be a part of the organ case – the organist then plays with his back to the main altar and the audience, or it can be in close proximity to the organ case as an independent console. Less frequently, the console can be located in a distant place or sometimes the organ can have two consoles with one located at a distance to the mechanism.
The most important part of the organ, which distributes the air to each of the pipes according to the intention of the organist, is called the wind-chest. The wind-chest is the heart of the organ. Even the smallest organ has to have one wind-chest, but a major organ can have up to ten in number. The wind-chest looks like a wide, long, but shallow box, on the upper surface of which stand the pipes. Inside the chest is a complicated mechanism of partitions, sliders, air valves and ducts, which distributes the air to the individual pipes according to the ‘command’ of the organist.
The commands of the organist are transmitted from the console to the wind-chest, by pressing the keys or engaging the various control devices on the console, by the ‘action’ (or mechanism) of the organ. The action converts the intention of the organist to the valve that opens or closes the air supply to the pipes.
Air to the individual pipes is supplied by the air system. It consists of a source of air (or wind). Most often the air pump drives the air into the bellows where the air is collected and stored at a regulated pressure. Then it is distributed to the wind-chests and on to the individual pipes and other devices.
The pipes are the source of sound from the organ. The pipes are tubes made from either metal or wood, rarely also of other materials such as forms of paper, glass, concrete or plastic. Apart from just the material used in its construction, pipes can be classified by other criteria, for example, by the way the type of sound is produced. Each pipe emits one tone. Whereas a small organ may have just a few dozen pipes, a large organ can boast several thousand. The height of the pitch emitted by a pipe is determined by its length. The pipes which produce the lowest pitch can have a length of up to 20 meters; in contrast, those pipes with a very high pitch will only be a few millimeters long.
The pipes in an organ are arranged into so called ‘registers’ (or stops). A register is a row of pipes from the biggest to the smallest, which emit a tone from the lowest to the highest pitch of the same strength, tonal quality and character. The balance of the sound of the organ depends not only on the proper selection of strength and tonal color for pipes in one register but also how the selection of a combination of registers melds with each other. This balance also depends on the type of the pipes (flue and reed), as well as the material from which the pipes are produced and on the mutual relationships with the many other parts of the settings and parameters. This is where the experience and art of the organ builder decides whether the sound of that instrument arouses in us positive, negative or even no emotions.
This is the secret to the uniqueness and superb quality of each instrument.