Organs and Organ Builders in Slovakia
1651 – 2006
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Martin Šaško sen.

[Šaško, Schaschko; Martin]


* 28.4.1807, Brezová pod Bradlom
† 20.2.1893, Brezová pod Bradlom

He learned the basics of woodworking with his father and perfected his craft in Skalica. It is said that even at the age of twelve he was able to assemble wooden clocks and a small organ. His desire to master his profession, or – according to Ľudovít Štúr – the advice of the well-read and far-sighted Martin Šeplák of Brezová, led him to take apprenticeship with an organ builder in Brno at the age of eighteen. If this story is true, he trained with František Harbich (1780 – 1862), who was the only organ builder in Brno around 1825.

Organ builder’s workshop

After returning from his apprenticeship he successfully repaired many instruments in the areas surrounding his birthplace and in 1834 he built his first organ. The task was entrusted to him by the Lutheran church in Brezová pod Bradlom. The authorities at that time were exceptionally appreciative of the instrument's crafting and sound. Šaško thus acquired a good reputation with his first opus and he had built at least four more organs by 1838.

Šaško's workshop was remarkably busy. As well as building new organs, older instruments also were repaired, reconstructed and enlarged. Sometimes the reconstructions were so fundamental that it is difficult to judge whether the sound picture of a particular organ owes more to the original organ builder or to Martin Šaško.

By the late 1830s there were at least two assistants in the workshop. After training and travelling, Šaško's sons Martin and Ján began working there also. The workshop was at its most productive during the 1860s. From a contemporary report in 1860 we learn that Šaško was snowed under with new orders. In 1862 at least five people were employed in the workshop, which was one of the largest of its time in Hungary. In the late 1870s Šaško's son Martin set up independently and opened a workshop in Békešská Čaba (in modern Hungary). Afterwards he worked only occasionally with his father, especially in the building of larger instruments. more »»

Text: Marian Alojz Mayer