Articles

Rogér van Dijk Organ history of the Sint-Christoffelkathedraal in Roermond, with particular attention to the recent renovation
Het ORGEL 115 (2019), nr. 2, 14-20 [summary]



The renovation of the organ in the St.-Christoffelkathedraal of Roermond was completed in 2018. The project was carried out by Verschueren Orgelbouw of Ittervoort. Rogér van Dijk, who was a consultant at the recent restoration, describes the history of the church and the organs that have been there. There is detailed attention for the instrument that Jean-Baptiste le Picard (1706-1779), organ maker of Liège, made in the middle of the 18th century. This organ was drastically renewed at the end of the 19th century by Gebr. Franssen. A year later a large fire destroyed most of the instrument. After the fire there was a substantial restoration of the church led by the architect Carl Weber, who also designed the cases for the new instrument, which was built in 1894-6 by Gebr. Franssen. The new instrument was placed wholly in the tower in two cases to the sides of the large west window. Despite much praise, the new organ did not satisfy expectations; this was primarily a result of the placement in the tower. The available space for the singers and also the layout of the organ were found to be too cramped. In addition, pneumatic action progressed in subsequent years, and the system in Roermond was felt to be old-fashioned just 20 years later. The lack of a beautiful façade was also found to be a defect.
In 1915 it was decided to rebuild the organ and to place it on a balcony. The inauguration of the renewed organ took place on 23 October, 1916. On 28 February, 1945, the organ was almost completely destroyed when the tower was blown up.
In the summer van 1948 the trustees of the cathedral established a fund with a goal of ca. 60,000 guilders, to build a new organ for the bishop. The project was commissioned from Verschueren in November, 1951.
The original intention was to provide the organ with Rugpositief, but architect Frits Peutz vetoed the idea. The organ maker had no other choice than to alter his design. At that moment the wish to keep the tower window visible was also abandoned. The new organ was built in a single case in front of the niche in the tower wall.
Soon after the organ was finished it became clear that the instrument did not satisfy expectations. Many important parts were difficult to reach and the sound radiation, thanks to the placement of much pipework in the tower, left much to be desired. The physical placement of diverse registers on different levels in the organ led to problems. And in addition, the cathedral was rather little used in the period between 1966 and 1979, which meant that the organ was poorly maintained. As a result, the instrument was largely dysfunctional 40 years after it was built.
At the end of the 20th century it was decided to revitalize the cathedral in Roermond, and this included changing the organ. In 2011 Rogér van Dijk (representing the Katholieke Klokken- en Orgelraad) advised a revision of the existing organ using the existing case, bellows, and most of the flue pipes. The mechanical parts, consisting of chests, keyboards, and action, were to be made new.
The work was again commissioned from Verschueren Orgelbouw (Ittervoort). In July, 2014, the contract for the first phase was signed.
The article describes the work that was carried out. Cees van der Poel gives his impressions of the renewed organ.



Potos: Jan Smelik