Les Silbermann, Facteurs D'orgues En Alsace et En Saxe

Article excerpt

LES SILBERMANN, FACTEURS D'ORGUES EN ALSACE ET EN SAXE, Charles-Léon Koehlhoeffer. Colmar: Jérôme Do. Bentzinger Editeur, [2008]. 421 pp., [16] pp. Ul. ISBN 9782849601433. euro41. Die Orgeln Gottfried Silbermanns by Frank-Harald Gress (3rd ed., Dresden: Sandstein Verlag, 2007; reviewed in the October 2008 TAO) is the leading work on the Saxon organbuilder. The school of Andreas, Gottfried's older brother and master, on the other hand, is poorly documented in print. A French organist familiar with both schools - Koehlhoeffer was once organist at the Gottfried Silbermann organ in Grosskmehlen - has written a new book about both branches of the Silbermann family.

Andreas Silbermann (1678-1734) grew up in Saxony but went to Alsace as a teenager to learn organbuilding. Gottfried (1683-1753) also learned his craft in Alsace but, unlike his brother, returned to Saxony to make his fortune. Les Silbermann, facteurs d'orgues en Alsace et en Saxe ("The Silbermanns, organbuilders of Alsace and Saxony") offers a respectable overview of both organbuilders. The author begins by presenting the relevant biographical facts and puts the Silbermanns in their place. This is followed by a complete list of all organs and separate lists of the instruments of Andreas, Gottfried, and Johann Andreas. The major section of the book, taking up over 200 pages, describes all ofthe organs in chronological order. Each entry has a sentence on the building where the instrument is found, the stoplist, a short history of the organ, a note on what parts ofthe instrument are original, and bibliographic references. The chronological presentation means that the organs of both branches are mixed together and one finds, to pick a random example, organs built between 1730 and 1732 in this order: Altorf (Andreas), Glauchau (Gottfried), Reichenbach (Gottfried), Frauenalb (project by Andreas), Reinhardtsgrimma (Gottfried; the name of the town is misspelled by Koehlhoeffer), Stolpen (project by Gottfried), Ebersmunster (Andreas), My lau (Gottfried), Colmar (Andreas), Crostau (Gottfried), Koenigsbrück (Andreas), and Freiberg (Gottfried). As a book about the Silbermanns, it certainly fits the presentation to list all organs together, but any instrument by Andreas will have more in common with his next organ than with one of Gottfried's and vice versa. …