Organs and Organ Builders in Slovakia
1651 – 2006
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From the organ’s history

1882, Vincent Možný – New organ.

1892 – Fitting the key action of Manual I with Barker lever (probably V. Možný).

1917, František Josef Svoboda – Repairs.

1928, Anton Schönhofer jun. – Overhaul coupled with amendments to the specification (on Manual II Kvint 2⅔’ changed for a Salicional 8‘, Superoktáv 2‘ for a Lieblich Gedact 8‘, Aeoline 8‘ for another narrow-scaled rank at 8ft pitch).

1969, Ladislav Jankovič – Rearrangement of the pedal coupler to Bowden operation and making it pneumatic, completion of the tremulant, birdsong, probably changing the original C – d1 pedalboard for a pedalboard with C – f1 compass, and other work.

1993, Marian Alojz Mayer, Miroslav Jablonský – Renewal of the key action, changing part of the unoriginal key coverings on Manual I from artificial material to natural bone, renewal of the manual and pedal coupler, removal of the non-functioning tremulant and birdsong, renewal of bellows hinges and releathering, cleaning, tuning.

2007, Vladimír Gazdík – Documentation, dismantling and storage of the instrument.

Since 2007 – The German organ builder, G. Woehl, is building a new four manual organ for Bratislava’s St Martin’s Cathedral. The instrument should be finished in 2010.

Vincent Možný installed the organ during the course of two incomplete years (1880 – 1882). The inspection was on 19 November 1882. The two manual 34 stop organ is Vincent Možný’s largest instrument. It was probably the first instrument of an organ builder working in Slovakia on a long-term basis in which the so-called Barker lever was used. Možný had to arrange the key action of Manual I to lighten its movement (due to there being 15 stops on Manual I, the majority are of 8ft pitch and two are of 16ft pitch, between them is a five rank Mixture and a four rank Cornet).

The instrument suffered from its enormously unsuitable location in the space, one could scarcely have found a more unsuitable place. Already at the inspection, attention was drawn to this. The builder of the organ does not bear responsibility for the location. In fact, at that time, an active Church music group (Kirchenmusikverein) performing in the Cathedral had succeeded in having the entire choir area reserved for the use of its musical productions, and so the only place for the organ was in the choir tower. During the building of the organ, however, Možný had to put up with further limitations. Because of stained glass windows which the bishop and cathedral priest Heiler and later the Banská Bystrica bishop Ipolyi had installed, a free view to the rear neo-gothic window had to remain. Finally, financial restrictions also occurred – following the costly regothicising of the Cathedral finished in 1877 insufficient financial means remained for the organ. And therefore V. Možný had to use about 50% of the pipework from some older redundant organ. Because of the shortage of financial means Fr Heiler did not allow finance to be spent on buying reed stops, which was a further privation of the instrument noted by the inspection.

In the inter-war period the then organist Štefan Németh-Šamorínsky tried very hard to have the organ replaced, but without success.

Despite this, the instrument contained very pleasing romantic stops, mainly at basic pitch. These will certainly prove sufficient in full measure when the organ moves into a new church in Žilina and is built in an acoustically suitable place.

Text: Marian Alojz Mayer