Organs and Organ Builders in Slovakia
1651 – 2006
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The firm’s beginnings go back to 1844. At that time in Krnov there was a small organ builder’s workshop in which Franz Rieger was working; he was father of the owners of what in the future was the famous organ building concern called Gebrüder Rieger.

Franz Rieger (born 13.12.1812, Sosnová near Krnov) learned organ building in Vienna at Joseph Seyberth’s (the literature also mentions Andìlská Hora, Vindava or Opava). In April 1844 he bought a house in Krnov. In the same year he married and was accepted as a Krnov citizen. Up to 1873 he is said to have installed 32 organs with mechanical actions and slider soundboards.

His elder son Otto (born 3.3.1847, Krnov) was first trained in his father’s workshop. In 1864 he went to Vienna in order to improve himself in organ building at Josef Ullmann’s, then, via Bamberg, he reached Würtzburg where he worked at Martin Schlimbach’s. His younger brother Gustav (born 1.8.1848, Krnov) also followed the same route. After their return from abroad, the father integrated them into the business which henceforth was renamed „Franz Rieger & Söhne“. He worked with them even after 1873 when he entrusted the family business to them, in practice up to 1880. Franz Rieger died in Krnov 29.1.1885. more »»

Organ builder’s workshop

From its inception in 1873, the Gebrüder Rieger firm tried to grasp the most modern trends in organbuilding and implement them in their own production program. Hence the firm was not restricted merely to an austere acceptance of existing patents, and through its own technical solutions and improvements it contributed to the development of contemporary organ building.

The first period (1873 – 1920), when the business was headed by Rieger family members, is characterised by the gradual growth in production. In the first decade of the 20th century, production reached an average of about 90 organs per annum. The factory reached its peak in 1912 when as many as 105 organs were installed. A year later the Gebrüder Rieger factory installed its largest instrument, a five manual organ of 116 stops for the Vienna Konzerthaus. Their own invention of so-called combination stops which the firm had patented in 1880 makes a great contribution to the number of instruments made. By this method two stops are created from one rank of pipes to which a further 12 are added thereby saving material, space and, not least, financial means also. An organ thus became more easily available also for less solvent clients and the firm gained more orders.

During the whole of the first period the firm built instruments mostly with cone chests. Between 1895 and 1903 they experimented also with exhaust pneumatics which, however, did not acquit themselves well and were excluded from the production programme. more »»

Text: Marek Cepko

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Engineering Office of the company Gebrüder Rieger. Gustav Rieger, the chief constructor and technical director of the company, in the background.