Wietse Meinardi Organ building after 2000
het ORGEL 95 (1999), nr. 5, 25-29 [summary]

The history of organ building in the 17th and 18th centuries shows that famous organ builders then did not strive for historically justified restorations or extensions of old organs; they simply made contemporary instruments. This way of building organs remained popular until the neobaroque; after that (since 1970), most organ builders began to build organs in historical styles. As a result, our time lacks its own style and sound; organ builders try to realise a sound ideal that is congruent with one from a previous era. In fact, this is a rather new phenomenon. It implies that aspects like temperament, compass, console measurements of new organs limit the organist who wishes to play a broad repertoire.

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Van Vulpen organ in "De Rank" Zuidhorn. Wietse Meinardi: "Is this organ the right choice?". Photo Albert Valstar

This orientation towards the past should not be the end of organ culture; it must be regarded as a learning phase. I think that the time has come to leave the school and get to work independently with what we have learned. Historical organs might be compared with historical houses: restoring is important, but just as houses have to be fit for inhabintance by modern human beings, our organs should enable the modern organist to play quite a bit more than just a few styles of music.

[Editor’s note: the ideas and the interpretation of history that Mr. Meinardi are not those of the editorial board prefers. Mr. Meinardi’s article is published in het ORGEL to stimulate a discussion about contemporary organ building.]