Organs and Organ Builders in Slovakia
1651 – 2006
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József Angster

[Angster József]

* 07.07.1834, Kácsfalu, today Jagodnjak (Croatia)
† 09.06.1918, Pécs (Hungary)

He was born into a peasant family of German origin. He trained as a carpenter with Joseph Hain in Esseg (Slovenia). He gained a certificate on 10 October 1853 then set out on his travels. In 1856 he arrived in Vienna where he intermittently worked in the organ building workshop of Peter Titz and Franz Ulmann. The organ builder’s journeyman, Schludt, awoke in him an interest in organs. At his instigation he worked from August 1863 to 19 August 1866 with the celebrated organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Although he was employed as a carpenter, he conscientiously made notes and sketches in his diary. Later he unsuccessfully tried to find work with the organ builder Mooser in Salzburg. He returned to Hungary via Bratislava and Pest. He settled down in Pécs where he established a noted Hungarian organ builder’s workshop. In 1886 he published a book with the title „Az orgona“ in which he concerns himself with the organ in general. He thought about writing a book on the history of the organ in Hungary also but this plan he did not accomplish. Later he worked with his sons. The workshop closed down as late as after the Second World War.

Organ builder’s workshop

He worked in Pécs from 1867. He began modestly. Initially he worked alone and only one joiner’s bench constituted the workshop’s equipment. He built both harmoniums and barrel organs. When he was commissioned to build a two manual 24 stop organ for the Pécs synagogue, he bought another two benches and employed three workers. The instrument, on which he worked for 13 months, he handed over to the customer on 21 March 1869. The organ aroused attention amongst specialists and began Angster’s successful career. Until 1874, however, he had to buy his metal pipes from abroad. Up to then he had managed to initiate co-operation with the pipe-maker, Martin Rumpel, who previously had worked at Peter Titz’s in Vienna. From this time, the Angster enterprise was self- sufficient, except for the making of reed pipes, and expanded into a factory although he began to use machines later than the Rieger firm. Gradually his organs made their way on to the whole of Hungarian territory. The first organ in Slovakia (his opus 56) he built in 1883 for the R. Catholic church in Včelince. From then on he regularly built new organs in Slovakia also. After the First World War, deliveries to Slovakia were interrupted and began again in a small way from 1938 to 1945 when some Slovak territory again reverted to Hungary.

At the beginning Angster clearly preferred slider soundboards and mechanical actions. However, he approached some new ideas with respect and gradually they became the basis of his success. more »»

Text: Marian Alojz Mayer


An 1885 contract for the construction of the Holy Trinity Church (Jesuit) in Trnava.