The Sauer organ

With the Sauer organ, recognizable by its extraordinary green front pipes, the Orgelpark owns an instrument from one of the most important organ manufacturers from the early 20th century – founded in the fifties of the 19th century by Wilhelm Sauer (1832-1916). Karl Ruther delivered the organ on behalf of the Sauer firm to the Parkkerk, as the Orgelpark was called at the time, in 1922. The front was ‘designed’ by the architect of the church, E.A.C. Roest: he copied it from the 1906 Voit organ in the Lutherkirche in Mannheim.



Sound palette

The Sauer organ has a very broad sound palette: from soft and subdued to broad and orchestral, with a thousand variations in-between. It’s unique for the Netherlands that the pneumatic connections between key and pipe returned to the organ at its restoration in 2006, executed by Elbertste Orgelmakers from Soest; this means that not only the pipes work with air pressure, but the technique the organist uses to open the valves underneath the pipes as well.


The second console

Since the summer of 2011 the Sauer organ features a second console. This console is easily moveable, which has two big advantages: the audience can watch the organist play, and the organist can hear the Sauer organ much better.

The console is more than just a copy of the original console – which, by the way, is still placed in the former pulpit and fully functioning. The second console has three claviers instead of two, and a collection of additional knobs. This is fully related to the way in which the console is connected to the old organ. Contemporary computer technologies enable us to send all signals from the console to the organ through a simple Ethernet cable, allowing for noteworthy possibilities.


Say, you are an organist, and you have been invited to perform in the Orgelpark. As a start you will receive a key in the form of a small black piece of plastic. This key houses a chip. If you hold this key near the upper clavier, the organ not only switches on, but will also recognize your key. That is practical, because it means that everything you save in the computer memory of the console will be available for you the next time you switch the organ on using the same key.


For example, the computer memory can save an impressive 3.000 registrations. That works like this: you choose a tone colour, by administering the register stops and prompt the organ with a specific key combination to remember your registration. You then choose the next registration and let the organ save this one as well. And so on. You can change your registration during the concert by pressing just one knob, no matter how complex the switch between registers is. Your assistant will therefore only have to pay attention to this one knob, and to accurately turning the pages of your sheet music.


Looking at the digital console, the many colours of register stops will also stand out to you. Other than with the old console, the registers on the new console no longer belong to a specific clavier. To put it differently: all registers can be used on all claviers. This is because the registers in the Sauer organ are distributed over six groups. We gave each of these groups a colour. By pushing the colored assignment knobs directly next to the claviers you can choose which group of registers will sound on which clavier. Each clavier has three stops for each colour: you can use registers with their regular pitch, but also an octave lower and an octave higher.


There are many more possibilities. For example, the organ can remember on its own what has been played on it, and replay that: a beautiful option for researching improvisations. It is also possible to play the organ through a computer, so without an organist, or with both an organist and a computer at the same time. If you would like you could even have four organists play at the same time on four separate keyboards, placed throughout the concert hall. Composers and musicians are outstandingly enthusiastic about the digital console. Composers because they can put the sound material of the Sauer organ to a much broader use than before; musicians mostly because of the pleasant touch, the registration computer, and the fact that they can be in contact with the organ and the audience at the same time.


Download the disposition of the Sauer organ here (in Dutch).

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