Organs and Organ Builders in Slovakia
1651 – 2006


Organ research in Slovakia was initiated by enthusiasts PhDr. Otmar Gergelyi and MUDr. Karol Wurm. The first list of Central-Slovakian organs in Slovak was published in 1973. Two years later it was extended and put out in German as well (Historische Orgeln und Gehäuse in der Mittelslowakei, Acta organologica 9, 1975). Organ lists of other regions have only been published in German: the organs of Western Slovakia in 1980 (Acta organologica 14, 1980) and of Eastern Slovakia in 1991 (Acta organologica 22, 1991). The authors only included older organs with slider soundboards and mechanical actions, the data on instruments with stop channels and those with pneumatic or electro-pneumatic actions are generally not available. However, many organs of this type are of a significant value with regard to their sound, technical, architectural and artistic qualities, and deserve our attention. In 1982, a representative bilingual publication Gergelyi Otmar – Wurm Karol: Historické organy na Slovensku / Historische Orgeln in der Slowakei, Opus Bratislava (Historical organs in Slovakia; the second, partly revised edition in 1989) was put out. Apart from a few rare exceptions, it remained the only organ-building literature in Slovakia for a long time. Unfortunately, not all the instruments known from the research in 1970s and 1980s have been preserved. Often they were removed without their value being recognized, or even recorded.

This was one of the reasons that lead the Music Centre Slovakia to initiate a long-term project aimed at registering all the organs in Slovakia. The country-wide research includes not only churches and chapels, but also other organ-housing buildings. At present, more than 70 % of the area has been processed. After completing the research on the whole territory, it should serve as a starting point for further projects and restoration purposes.

The DVD Organs and Organ Builders in Slovakia 1651 – 2006 represents a selection of the research carried out until now. The oldest completely preserved instrument dates back to 1651. 2006 being the year of Slovak music was a stimulus to presenting the findings of organ research in a more widely designed trilingual project. Beside the most precious old organs, there are also instruments included, which do not meet the specification, technology and design criteria of today, but are to be seen as a testimony of the time when they were built and used. For instance, the organ in Reduta, the city ballroom centre in Bratislava was an integral part of concert life and the only concert instrument in Slovakia for a long time. Among the newer instruments there are also some typical of their time, but many of extraordinary value with regard to their technical, sound and architectural qualities.

The selection of organ builders resulted from the organ selection. Nevertheless, a few others were included who are known for having worked in Slovakia (Magister Nicolaus, Matej Burian, Hieronym Burian), although their instruments have not been preserved. Overall, the list of organ builders active in Slovakia is much longer and the publisher intends to introduce them in a later issue of the edition.

The means and extent of instrument documentation mirror the fact that it is the initial research (the data from archive research are presented only if available).

The instruments are described by means of chronological overviews of works carried out on them (if known). There has only been very little literature on instruments, which the authors had at their disposal. Sometimes, the instrument description also includes a company’s inscription. This, however, has to do with its repair and does not come from the builder, which the reader will easily identify thanks to the works listed.

Schematic description (after the instrument’s name):

2 manual organ with pedal II / P / 17/13 (6+6+5/1)
the Roman numeral – number of manuals,
P – an instrument with pedal,
the Arabic numeral – the total number of organ stops,
the numeral after the forward slash – number of actual stops (i.e. without transmissions, or extensions), the same is valid for the numeral in brackets expressing the number of stops of individual keyboards (similarly with the specification overviews – the first numeral stands for the number of stops, the second for the number of pipe ranks).

All the instruments are supplemented by a specification overview providing basic technical data (in Slovak language; readers in English or German have a glossary of used terms at their disposal).

As for specifications, the first figure stands for the keyboard, the second for the tonal compass if different from the keyboard. It is either given in numbers (the first representing the number of keys, the second the number of actual tones) or by its compass.

Manual C – d3/ C – d3 with short octave
Pedal C – h0, 24/12

With some instruments, there are detailed technical descriptions added in Slovak. They include information of a much wider character than that of the basic survey and differ according to the respective extent of knowledge. In texts, the organ parts are described from left to right. If otherwise (in exceptional cases), the information given in the description is valid.

54 of the instruments have sound documentation available in a form of several-minutes-long recordings. The Videotheque DVD presents video-portraits of 25 instruments in higher resolution. Short descriptions of localities (to be understood as buildings) are also included, as they create the sound and architectural space of instruments and often have directly influenced their shape. The historical name forms of organ builders, towns, villages, and buildings are specified in italics and square brackets.

Valachy, Daniel, jun. [Valachy, Wallachy, Valach; Daniel], * 1726 – † 1792
KEŽMAROK [Kežmarek, Kesmarek, Caesareoforum, Kesmarkinum, Kesmark, Käsmarkt, Kässmarkt, Kaesmark, Kaisersmarkt]
Lutheran Articular Church [Wooden church]

An asterisk (*) in the list of organs displayed with the respective organ builder’s entry signifies that the organ was built by the organ builder himself (otherwise it refers to repairs, adjustments and other interventions in an organ built by another organ builder).

Beša – St Anne’s RC Parish Church – Organ positive I / 6
Blatné – St Adalbert’s RC Parish Church – One manual and pedal organ I / P / 12 (9+3) *
Bratislava – Old Town – St Martin’s Cathedral – Two manual and pedal organ II / P / 34 (15+9+10) *
Bratislava – Rusovce – St Mary Magdalen’s RC Parish Church – One manual and pedal organ I / P 13 (9 + 4)
Madunice – Nativity of the B.V.M. RC Parish Church – One manual and pedal organ I / P / 11 (8+3) *]