Synergy between Tradition and Innovation
Rudolf von Beckerath’s Opus 1,
Then and Now
By Holger Redlich
In 1951, the specification of our Opus 1 was laid out by Rudolf von Beckerath with 27 stops, but because of financial constraints was reduced to eleven stops and two manuals (Great and Brustwerk) with mechanical action. However, in 1956, the organ received another seven stops, remaining in that specification until 2019. After 63 years in service, a major overhaul was necessary, as was an update of the electrical devices. In addition, there was a growing demand for the instrument to have a broader tonal spectrum. The existing divisions were enlarged and Swell and Echo divisions added.
We intended to preserve the original organ, despite the enhancements, by installing a movable, double-sided console, the only one of its kind. The traditional side keeps the original layout, reusing the original keyboards. The contemporary side presents the entire instrument to the organist and is equipped with state-of-the art devices, such as floating manuals to be selected by a tablet, a setter system with 10,000 combinations, MIDI interface for recording and replay, and a link to the electronic Choir organ located in the altar area. The new Swell division is equipped with two sets of swell shades (front and roof), which can be operated simultaneously or separately. In the center of the newly installed Echo division (under expression) is a Cymbelstern in the shape of a rose—the emblem of St. Elizabeth’s.
The inauguration of this instrument took place after an organ consecration ceremony on December 13, 2020.
Holger Redlich is CEO of Rudolf von Beckerath Orgelbau GmbH. Website: Beckerath.com
All photos by Patrick Redlich