Organ Works

Restauration of the Choir Organ

Weingarten Abbey 2012

History of the building

The first documentary mention of Altdorf, the Weingarten of today, dates from early as AD 739, when there was already a small parish church standing on the Martinsberg. The Benedictine monastery was founded in the 11th century, and a three-aisled Romanesque basilica constructed. In the year 1090 the wife of Welf IV presented a reliquary of the Holy Blood to the Abbey, which is still to be seen in the altar. The old Romanesque building was torn down in 1715 and a new church erected. It is today the largest baroque church north of the Alps and is known as the "Swabian St Peter's". The Basilica ranks as one of the baroque jewels of Europe.

History of the Choir Organ

Two years before the solemn dedication of the Basilica, a contract was placed with Joseph Bossart - a member of the important Swiss organbuilding dynasty from Zug - who already had several organs to his name. By 1730 the organ was in need of repair, being considered 'worn out' and 'decayed', whereupon the newly elected Abbot, Alphons Jobst (1684-1738) summoned the young Joseph Gabler, who had just completed the large organ at Ochsenhausen, to report on the organ. Joseph Gabler was commissioned to repair the Choir Organ. He managed to convince the Abbey authorities of his technical competence in such a way that he was contracted to provide both a Main Organ and a new Choir Organ. The Choir Organ was ready in 1743 and is said to have had 22 stops and 2,222 pipes, and for which Gabler received 666 guilders in payment. The case, erected above the choir stalls, was made under the direction of Simon Feuchtmayer from Salem and the Abbey carpenter Joseph Koch. The case pipes which mirror each other on either side of the stalls belong to the Choralbass. Those on the Epistle (south) side were connected by trackers passing through a 20-metre long channel under the floor. In 1900 the organ was rebuilt, re-using the old pipes, by Julius Schwarzbaur. Further losses of the original Gabler substance of the organ occurred shortly after the re-establishment of the Benedictine monastery in 1923-4. Franz Xaver Späth (the second generation of our organbuilding family) constructed a quasi-new Choir Organ with two manuals and 36 stops, re-utilising old components, including the Schwarzbaur windchests. At the same time the console was moved over to the other side of the stalls. In 1932, Albert Reiser, at the instigation of Father Winfried Ellerhorst, removed a number of stops and provided seven new ones. In 1934-37 the same firm built an almost new organ with three manuals and 46 stops to Ellerhorst's design.

Restauration 2012

As will be clear from the organ's chequered history, we were confronted with a multi-layered state of affairs. Each division has two windchests (Schwarzbaur 1900 and Späth 1923), which had been combined. The majority of the pipework is by Späth 1923, although some dates from Ellerhorst's and Reiser's work in 1934-7. The instrument is to be restored to its pre-existing state. A return to the Gabler organ of 1743 is impossible, as neither windchests, nor console nor sketches have survived. Some traces of the original organ are to be found behind the choir stalls, but offer no evidence of the measurements or siting of the windchests. Four original Gabler stops survive to this day. These have been altered in various ways and will be returned to their original function: - the pipes of the famous 15-rank Choralbass have large openings and tuning slots cut into the rear and are thus considerably over-length, with some sounding an octave or more above Gabler's intended pitch. The original state of the pipes is readily discernible and will be re-instated. - the Quintadenbass 4 found on the Pedal was originally made by Gabler as a Quintade 8 on the Hauptwerk. The missing octaves (C-H and f#1-a3) will be reconstructed and the stop placed on a separate cone-chest on the Hauptwerk. - Gabler's Hohlflöte 8 of chestnut wood on the Hauptwerk has been preserved complete, with extra treble pipes being provided to match the present-day manual compass. The stop is to be restored and treated for woodworm. - the Pedal Principalbass is also original from 1743, although it has suffered unfortunate alterations to the cut-up of the mouths. These will be corrected in the course of the restoration. The restoration will be completed with the re-dedication planned for 11 November 2012.


I. Hauptwerk C-a3

  1. Grossprinzipal 16'
  2. Prinzipal 8'
  3. Weidenflöte 8'
  4. Hohlflöte 8'
  5. Quintade 8'
  6. Prästant 4'
  7. Kleinflöte 4'
  8. Quinte 2 2/3'
  9. Oberoktave 2'
  10. Kornet 3-5 f. 8'
  11. Mixtur 4 f. 2'
  12. Trompete 8'
  13. Bärpfeife 8'

II. Schwellwerk 1 C-a3

  1. Bourdon 16'
  2. Geigend Prinzipal 8'
  3. Violdigamba 8'
  4. Fernflöte 8'
  5. Nachthorngedackt 8'
  6. Schweizerflöte 8'
  7. Oktave 4'
  8. Blockflöte 4'
  9. Nassat 2 2/3'
  10. Rohrflöte 2'
  11. Mixtur 3-4 f. 1 1/3'
  12. Dulzian 16'
  13. Trompete 8'
  14. Klarine 4'

III. Schwellwerk 2 C-a3

  1. Hornprinzipal 8'
  2. Gemshorn 8'
  3. Lieblich Gedackt 8'
  4. Nachthorn 4'
  5. Musikgedackt 4'
  6. Waldflöte 2'
  7. Terz 1 3/5'
  8. Oberquinte 1 1/3'
  9. Nachthörnlein 1'
  10. Kalomela 3 f. 2/5'
  11. Rankett 16'
  12. Oboe 8'
  13. Krummhorn 8'
  14. Harfenregal 8'

Pedal C-f1

  1. Prinzipalbass 16'
  2. Subbass 16'
  3. Oktavbass 8'
  4. Gemshornbass 8'
  5. Choralbass 10-15 f. 4'
  6. Oberoktavbass 4'
  7. Flötbass 2'
  8. Posaunenbass 16'
  9. Trompetenbass 8'
  10. Regalbass 2'