Disposition der Orgel

The History and Importance
of the Treutmann-Organ

In 1734 when Christoph Treutmann began the building of the organ he was already well in his sixties, wealthy, well-known as an organ builder and highly praised. Despite his age he was completely au fait with the tastes of the day and open for any innovations. The canons of Grauhof who themselves were equally self assured and wealthy and whose great wish it was to have an exceedingly good instrument, recognized these qualities and knowingly commissioned Treutmann for that work. Treutmann on his part appreciated this opportunity. The new baroque church, unique in northern Germany with its three aisles and excellent acoustics gave him the chance to excel in organ construction. And so within three years the largest and most extravagant instrument that the organ builder hat ever constructed was completed - his legacy to the world. It is exceedingly fortunate that this of all Treutmann’s masterpieces should have survived the passage of time.

A few of the main characteristics of the Grauhof organ have been summed up by an expert in the following way: Whereas for a long time in northern Germany it was usual that the different "Werke" of an organ were normally built and assembled in separate organ cases, the Grauhof organ integrated the different organs behind what to the on-looker would seem to be a single organ case. This had a special effect on the sound produces making it more homogeneous. As well as the usual sliding coupler (Schiebekoppel) from the Oberwerk to the Hinterwerk common to most organs made in northern Germany there is also a stop with a coupler with Stechermechanik from the Hinterwerk to the Hauptwerk which means that either all three Werke can be played at the same time or only the Oberwerk and Hinterwerk together. This concept was relatively new at that time. Treutmann also employed the so-called string stops. The sound from the fine stops of the Viola da Gamba 8’ and 16’ in the Hauptwerk is very elegant and somewhat out of this world. When played with other 8’stops they produce very characteristic sounds. This is evidence of the influence that the regions to the east had on organ music. A very special effect could be produced on this organ by the keyboard operated carillon (Klaviaturglockenspiel), which Meister Buttstadt form Erfurt had provided.

This carillon which was a highly thought of accessory and at first the pride of the canons was discarded in 1848. It was considered no longer suitable for the musical tastes of the time and since then it has been awaiting reconstruction. During the complete restoration and overhaul of the organ carried out between 1989 and 1992 all the original parts of the organ still in existence were retained and others were renewed true to the original concept. Special care was taken to restore the original sound pattern.

Today the Grauhof organ with its 42 stops and roughly 2500 pipes with three manuals and the pedals proves to be very suitable for the extensive range of compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach. The great organist of the St. Thomas church in Leipzig loved above all the string stops, the sound of which he had become familiar with in his home town in Thüringen. Organists wanting to produce a sound as close as possible to that of Bach himself, are, for this reason, particularly pleased with the organ at Grauhof. Organists and organ builders come from all over the world just to get to know this organ as it is one of the most important masterpieces of Bach’s time that is still in existence. It is often used in recordings on the radio or for CDs and each summer people come from near and far to the Grauhofer-Orgel-Sommer concerts. These take place on each Sunday throughout July and August. Concert-goers can enjoy the full sound produced by a pulled 32’bass trombone stop, about which one of Treutmann’s contemporaries said: "... that is was not very dissimilar to the sound of a rumbling thunderstorm in the air."