ORGAN OF THE ZAGREB CATHEDRAL
14 / 7 – 15 / 9 / 2016
“BACH is the beginning and end of all.” (Max Reger)
About the Zagreb Cathedral
The Zagreb Cathedral is an exceptional edifice. It is considered to be the greatest and most important sacral building in Croatia. It is an edifice that belongs among the monumental Gothic cathedrals and it indicates that Zagreb was a powerful medieval centre. The institution of the bishopric in Zagreb in 1093-1094 definitely initiated the building of the cathedral. Many archaeological finds prove that there already stood another old church. The cathedral as we know it was built in several stages, with interruptions between the 13th to the beginning of the 16th century, when the arches of the aisles were completed. What we definitely know is that the cathedral was completed and consecrated in the year 1217. However, it was severely destroyed at the time of the Tartarian incursion in the year 1242, but Bishop Timotheus continued thoroughly with its restoration in the Gothic style. The cathedral gets the southern massive bell-tower in the period from 1633 to 1641, at the time of the extremely active bishop Franjo Ergelski Hasanović. The builder of this period was the Swiss Ivan Albertal. He also participated in the restoration of the cathedral after the great fire of the year 1645. In the course of the 17th century and especially in the 18th century the interior of the cathedral was filled-in with baroque inventory, altars (eighteen), pulpits and memorial plates. The cathedral experienced the hardest blow in the great earthquake of the year 1880. After the earthquake which also gravely destroyed Zagreb there was a fundamental restoration of the cathedral undertaken and from 1880 to 1906 the cathedral was restored in the Neo-gothic style. The projects were prepared by the Viennese architect F. Schmidt; the construction was carried out byHermann Bollé. Bollé also carried out the work on the restoration, and he partly changed Schmidt’s projects. It was exactly in this restoration carried out under the management of Hermann Bollé that the cathedral received its current recognizable view with the two slender towers, tall truss roof, new pillars and new altars while the baroque ones were mostly removed. Along with many Croatian eminent men who were given crypts here, there are Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan, Ivan Antun Zrinski, Eugen Kvaternik and the definitely most outstanding person among all, the blessed Alojzije Stepinac, whose name is present in the frequently named cathedral as Stepinec’ cathedral. Nowadays, it is Bollé’s cathedral that gives the visual identity to Zagreb.
The cathedral takes central place of the spiritual life of all Croats.
About the organ of the Zagreb Cathedral
The present-day organ in the cathedral is not the first instrument there. The history of the cathedral organ is far-reaching and rich. We already come upon news about the organ in the 15th and 16th century. The organ was acquired by bishop Osvald and it was repaired in the 16th century by A. Flauenstein. The cathedral organist G. Štrukl, originating from Styria, built a new instrument with thirteen registers in 1647. Somewhere round the year 1690 the organist I. Faller from Ljubljana re-built and augmented the organ by which the influence of the south-German and Italian organ tradition can be detected. After that we know nothing definite about the doings in the cathedral connected with the organ – all up to the year 1834. In this year a new instrument arrived in the cathedral, the biggest instrument in Croatia of that time. The instrument was the work of the Hungarian organ builder F. Focht. However, owing to some errors in the construction the organ was soon sold to the church in Pregrada. It was a three-manual organ with some forty registers. They are still in the Pregrada church in a rather poor state. In 1852 Kaptol ordered a new organ from the German firm Walcker from Ludwigsburg, an organ with four manuals, pedal and fifty registers. The organ was soon built-up – in the year 1855. What is very important is that the firm Walcker was at that time already known across the world and exceptionally appreciated; their big organs were already standing in the churches of Hamburg, Ulm, Boston and the biggest one in Riga. The Zagreb organ is included among the five most valuable works of the mentioned firm. After the 1880 earthquake the organ suffered great damage, so that in the coming period they were subject to various frequent interventions performed by all sorts of organ builders. This went on until the year 1912 when the organ builder firm Walcker, the firm that built the organ, removed the results of the rather bad interventions and also modernized the organ. The last major restoration undertaking was the one performed in the year 1978.
The organ of the Zagreb cathedral belong to the line of concert organs with romantic sound characteristics with more than 6,000 flue pipes, seventy-eight registers and four manuals. It is an instrument on which it is possible to perform literally all the organ literature, from early music all through to the most modern compositions. It is splendid both for soloist concerts and chamber music-making. The organ is considered a major achievement of organist skill and it is one of the biggest in Europe and the world; at the same time they can be classified among the ten finest and top-quality organs in the world. The flue pipes are positioned in the monumental Neo-gothic swell box that excellently fitted in the cathedral space. It remained an unknown fact who the builder of the swell box was. As a zero-category monument of culture the organ is registered with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia as a protected cultural good.
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