Noordbroek, Hervormde Kerk


Text from the booklet of the CD: "Organworks of Dietrich Buxtehude volume 4" (MDG MD+GL3424) by Harald Vogel

All photos from Geert Jan Pottjewijd Click at the picture to enlarge

1696: Building of the organ by Arp Schnitger, the pedal situated behind the organ.

1730: Repairs by Johann Jürgen Schnitger

1752: Repairs by Albert Antoni Hinsz.

1768: Alterations by Albert Antoni Hinsz. Enlargement of the lowest octave. The organcase made deeper. New manuals. Enlargement of Hoofdwerk by Quintadena 16' and Vox Humana 8'. Rugpositief + Dulciaan 8'

1809: Alterations by Heinrich Hermann Freytag. Enlargement of the case at either sides and placing of the Pedal behind this enlargement on new windchests. Mixtuur on the Pedal replaced by Gedekt 8' and new Bazuin 16'. New bellows. New frontpipes.

1855: Changes by Petrus van Oeckelen. Octaaf 2', Sexquialter and Scherp of the Rugpositief replaced by Prestant 8' (discant), Viola da Gamba and Fluit 2'.

1894: Repairs by J.F. Kruse.

Nieuwsblad van het Noorden 24-08-1894

192x: Alterations to the Dulciaan by Holtman & Leemhuis.

1958: Restoration by S. Graafhuis and C.H. Edskes. Rugpositief reconstructed to the situation of 1809.

1974: Repairs by S. Graafhuis.

1983 and 1996: Repairs by Veger & van der Putten.

: Restoration of the manual keyboards.

2014/2015: Restoration of the 4 windchests by Mense Ruiter. 9 May 2014 first concert bij Leonore Lub and Peter Westerbrink on the restored instrument.

2022: The Dulciaan 8' was restored by Reil in Heerde.

Specification ( O=Older than Schnitger, S=Schnitger, F=Freytag, H=Hinsz, E=Edskes):
Hoofdwerk   Rugwerk   Pedaal  
Quintadena 16' (H) Fluit douce 8' (F) Bourdon 16' (S)
Prestant 8' (F) Prestant 4' (O) Prestant 8' (F)
Holpyp 8' (S) Spitsfluit 4' (O) Gedekt 8' (F)
Octaaf 4' (S) Octaaf 2' (S,E) Octaaf 4' (S)
Speelfluit 4' (S) Sesquialter II (E) Bazuin 16' (S)
Quint 2 2/3' (O,S) Scherp III-IV (E) Trompet 8' (S)
Octaaf 2' (S) Dulciaan 8' (H) Cornet 4' (S)
Mixtuur IV-VI (S)        
Trompet 8' (S)        
Vox Humana 8' (H)        

Photo Piet Bron. Source: Click at the photo to enlarge.


Text from the booklet of the CD: "Organworks of Dietrich Buxtehude volume 4" (MDG MD+GL3424) by Harald Vogel
1695-1696: Arp Schnitger built the organ in the architectur­ally significant, uncommonly large church in Noordbroek during 1695-96. It was Schnitger’s first major undertaking in the province of Groningen after his rebuilding of the large Mar­tini organ in the city of Groningen and supplying of pedal towers (32’) for the same instrument. Later Schnitger developed a very extensive business in Groningen, building six new organs in the city and eight new instruments in the pro­vince and taking on numerous rebuilding pro­jects and repairs. Today there are still nine or­gans in and around Groningen in a state of preservation reflecting the style of the Hamburg master Schnitger - more than in any other re­gion of comparable size.
The Noordbroek organ originally had a total of twenty stops on the Hoofdwerk, Rugpositief, and Pedaal. The Pedal was set up behind the main case, as was the pedal in not - too - dis­tant Uithuizen, where the original design is still preserved today. Here the pedal pipes are free standing - without a case and protected only by wooden side walls - under the vault. The Schnitger organ in Cappel still has this pedal design, a design he employed when the vault over the organ provided for a good distribution of the sound throughout the structure.
From the previous organ in Noordbroek Schnitger took over only the two flutes of the Rugpostief and the Quint 3’ of the Hoofdwerk.
These stops have a special tonal quality and must have been the works of an important master. Only the planned documentation of the Noordbroek organ may allow us to establish clarity about their exact origin.
Schnitger’s usual design for village organs as­signed a short octave to the manual keyboards (without C sharp, D sharp, F sharp, and G sharp) and a broken octave to the pedal (without C sharp and D sharp). The develop­ment of high playing standards among organists in the province of Groningen during the eighteenth century brought the desire for key­boards with a full compass in the bass. (The high attainments of Groningen organists are de­scribed in the Hess collection of specifications, among other sources.)
1768: Thus in 1768 Albert Antonius Hinsz, who had taken over the Schnitger workshop from Franz Caspar Schnitger, built new Hoofdwerk and Rugpositief windchests with a full range of 49 keys from C to c”’. He also added to the stops, three of which are still extant today. From his base in Groningen Hinsz worked on almost all the organs of the area and built over sixty new instruments in the Netherlands between 1731 and 1785. Of his twenty-three new organs in Groningen, eight are preserved.
1806-1809: Hermann Heinrich Freytag, like Hinsz a Ham­burg native, carried out the only other redesign of the Noordbroek organ during 1806-9. Freytag had succeeded Hinsz, and his shop con­tinued in Groningen until 1869. His classicistic organ fronts and superb voicing represent the highest level of European organ building around 1800. Shortly before he began work on the Noordbroek organ, Freytag had renovated the organ in the village of Noordwolde near Groningen, an instrument still well preserved today. His work on the Noordwolde organ, an instrument dating back to the first half of the seventeenth century, gave him the opportunity to study the tonal qualities of the Groningen organ style of the early baroque period. The voicing and solid construction of the front pipes in Noordwolde must have made a favourable im­pression because Freytag used them as his model for the new front pipes he built in Noord­broek. The corrosion damage to Schnitger’s Noordbroek tin facade pipes seems to have been substantial enough by 1800 to have ne­cessitated their replacement. Thus today in Noordbroek we see lead pipes with the pointed mouth-form typical of the early seventeenth century, but built by Freytag shortly after 1800: a stylistic copy, as it were, from a period predat­ing the Schnitger organ.
Freytag’s redesign also involved the addition of side pedal towers to the front; they were set up right next to Schnitger’s Hauptwerk case. This design along with its deep-set pedal windchests was also employed in Noordwolde; it lends the main case different proportions and renders it similar to the front structure of the Schnitger organ in the Groningen Aa-Kerk. Freytag also modernized the case by the addition of new Hoofdwerk- and Rugpositief cases, and vases and ums on top of the cases in the style of that period. Since the Rugpositief also has rich carvings dating to 1768, the front has a multistylistic character. Even so, the clarity of Schnitger’s design dominates.
Freytag’s four new wedge-bellows behind the organ succeeded Schnitger’s pedal placement. This bellows system is still in operation today end lends the sounds beautiful “breathing’ qu­ality. Freytag retained the existing stops with the exception of the new Gedekt 8’ in the pedal re­placing Schnitger’s Mixture.
1855: In the nineteenth century the only alteration was carried out by the Groningen organ workshop of the van Qeckelen family in 1855. The three high stops of the Rugpositief were replaced, and a pedal coupler was installed.
1958: Since 1855 the Noordbroek organ has remained essentially unchanged, the only exception being the re­placement of the three Rugpositief stops from the nineteenth century with new stops in the style of the original specification. C.H. Edskes and S. Graafhuis completed this task in 1958.
Thus the Noordbroek organ retains its original sound to an unusual extent due to the fact that only minor changes were made after 1809. Along with the Aa-Kerk organ in Groningen, the Noordbroek organ numbers among the most important documents of organ culture in Northern Europe and is excellently suited for the per­formance of the organ music of the North German masters. It is unfortunate that the windchests are no longer in a good state of repair: they are not Sirtight and need to be reglued. The current wind pressure is 80mm/ws on the bellows, but repairs could return it to its original measure, as was the case in the recent resealing of Schnitger’s Aa-Kerk windchests. Plans for technical repairs and a structural restoration of the Noordbroek organ loft are being prepared in connection with a thorough organological documentation of the instrument.

Instruments,Works, and Registrations
The two Schnitger organs in Noordbroek and the Groningen Aa-Kerk reflect the continuity of eighteenth and nineteenth century develop­ments, but did not undergo thorough renovation transforming their basic original design. The old stops of both instruments are in an extraordi­narily good state of preservation. This means that the exclusive use of ranks from the seven­teenth and eighteenth centuries (including the beautiful Noordbroek front principals of 1809) produces a homogeneous tonal picture.
Every thorough renovation entails a loss of old material. Organ restoration, as it has developed during the last twenty years, has been distin­guished by a marked increase in historical knowledge, craftsmanship, and musical under­standing in matters of voicing. The first phase in the attempted restoration of historical organs in Northern Germany, beginning around 1930 and continuing into the late 1960s, was marked by limited historical knowledge, insufficient ex­perience with old building practices, and a mis­understanding of sound aesthetics dictated by the antiromantic orientation of the neobaroque ideal. Almost all the restorations of those de­cades brought with them unnecessarily large losses of material. In most cases these efforts fell short of even a satisfactory degree of tech­nical operational reliability.
Fortunately, organ builders were more careful with the old instruments in the Netherlands and especially so in Groningen. During this phase of development the Schnitger organs in the Groningen area were not restored. Only the Groningen Martini organ was rebuilt and equipped with electric action during this phase, in 1938-39 to be exact. Seven important Schnitger organs, instruments that had not un­dergone substantial modification during the pre­vious decades, were presented at the Groningen Schnitger Conference in 1969. At the time the Groningen organs offered an important point of orientation in the planning of ways to remove the damage resulting from the attempted restorations of the historical organs of Northern Germany.
The successful restoration projects of the past twenty years and in many cases second re­storations, have ameliorated the situation so much that it is now possible to undertake a complete recording of Buxtehude’s works on in­struments of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries restored to their original form.
The selection of works recorded in Noordbroek and Groningen favors the “remote keys” be­cause both organs are tuned according to well-tempered systems. The Aa-Kerk organ departs only slightly from equal temperament, thus lending the F-sharp-minor and E-major prel­udes a mild character. The sound produced by individual pipes, ranks in different combinations and the full ensemble is so harmonious that the “sour thirds” of the neariy equal temperament do not disturb. The “pulling effect” in the tuning can be heard very clearly in the long chords and is produced by the mutual influence of the pipes which are arranged in thirds on the windchest.
Along with this we have the extraordinarily fine acoustical circumstances in the Aa-Kerk and in Noordbroek. The combination of presence and spacious sound in the Aa-Kerk acoustics is ideal for the presentation of the North German organ repertoire with its characteristic features of complex polyphony and numerous rests which make reverberation and decay of sound integral parts of the music.
The registration of the plenum on this recording follows the practice of the eighteenth century instead of the seventeenth century style of sep­arately registered divisions: the divisions are coupled to form a tutti. This modification in reg­istration practice was dictated by the current condition of the Noordbroek and Groningen or­gans. In both cases original mixtures are avail­able in only one division; in Noordbroek in the Hoofdwerk and in Groningen in the Rugpositief. Therefore, as a rule the pedal coupler has been employed for the plenum.