Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, Great (Vater-Müller) Organ, 1728/1738/1869

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Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, Great (Vater-Müller) Organ, 1728/1738/1869

In 1724, the church wardens of the Old Church commissioned Christian Vater, the Hamburg organ builder, to build an entirely new organ to replace the old one. Vater completed this organ in 1726 and the churchwardens were very pleased: the instrument was “absolutely perfect in every way”. In 1738, the tower began to subside. For restoration activities, the organ had to be dismantled. Once the tower had been restored, Caspar Müller was commissioned to re-install the organ. Not only did Müller put it back, but he made major changes as well, his belief being that after its renovation, the organ ‘should speak promptly and forcefully and should be heard during the singing’. The Vater-Müller organ would remain largely unchanged until 1869 when G.F.H. Witte updated it to accommodate contemporary tastes requiring a sound that was less sharp and more rounded. Although Witte changed the sound, hardly a piece of the original material was lost. Since Witte’s renovation, the organ has remained unchanged.

The Old Church Organ has always been admired. It was once mentioned in the famous 18th-century travelogue written by Charles Burney. Even today, it attracts organ enthusiasts – both listeners and players – from all over the world.

The case for the organ was designed by Jurriaan Westerman. Above the organ are the old city seal of Amsterdam with the cargo ship and the city’s coat of arms with the three Andreas crosses.

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