THE SCHULZE DYNASTY: Organ Builders 1688-1880

By Basch, Peter J. | Musical Opinion, July/August 2006 | Go to article overview

THE SCHULZE DYNASTY: Organ Builders 1688-1880


Basch, Peter J., Musical Opinion


THE SCHULZE DYNASTY: Organ builders 1688-1880 By Bryan Hughes Forward by Francis Jackson Musical Opinion ISBN 0-9544074-1-5 Paperback: 254 pp £35

Bryan Hughes chronicles the Schulze family's 200 years of organbuilding, a monumental, 20-year research, a Schulze Kritische Gesamtausgabe that unfolds the historical, technical and aesthetic aspects of German organbuilding in the early Romantic period when the Organ as a mirror of its time began to move from a polyphonic to a symphonic instrument, a rock-solid artistry in the midst of a swinging pendulum.

The Foreword, written by the great organist emeritus, Dr Francis Jackson, paints a vivid picture of the "distinctive voice of Schulze" that transformed English practice with German-inspired innovations, along with Willis, Schnitger and Silbermann, contemporaries of Schulze. The Preface energizes, motivates, and defines areas of historical concern, clarifies the great impact Schulze made in England, a "musical enlightenment" that led to many commissions, including the huge five-manual, 6,000 pipe Organ in Doncaster Parish Church in 1862.

The first chapters profile of the Schulze family outlines seven generations of organbuilding, with extensive data on significant installations, including the Church of the Immaculate Conception in New Orleans, Louisiana, built in 1860. From the beginning, with Hans Elias Schulze in 1688, followed by Hans Heinrich, Johann Daniel, Johann Andreas, Johann Friedrich, the famous Edmund, who at the age of 27 was invited by Prince Albert to exhibit an Organ at Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, London; Oscar, Eduard, Herwert and Franz, their individualistic and corporate principles and social histories are thoroughly and meticulously recorded, gleaned from diverse documents.

Continental organbuilding, with its equal temperament, concave pedalboard, bright and silvery principals, flue choruses of great brilliance and power, lifted England's spirits, a movement that inspired Victorian organists to visit France and Germany where they heard Cavaillé-Coll's masterpieces at St Denis and The Madeleine, as well as the Schulze organs in Weimar, Loitz, Lübeck, Halberstadt, Halle, Gotha, Heringen, Berlin, Wessenfels, Verden, Westphalia, Bremen Cathedral, Düsseldorf, Alperbach-Dortmund and Paulinzella, with their characteristic stop nomenclature; ie. Gedactbass, Hohleflöte, Lieblich Gedact, Gambe, Geigenprincipal, Posaune, Flauto traverse, 2' Mixture V, 2'ScharfIII, 1' Cymbel III, and a 2- [fraction two-thirds]' Quinte ½' Octave as one stop, as well as the Menschenstimme or Vox Humana, a Trompete on the Great and a Krummhorn in the Positiv.

Notable Schulze installations followed, both in Germany and in England, all of which are chronicled with stoplists, material and construction methods, historical and tonal evolution, maps, facsimiles of documents, drawings of chest design, organ layout, action characteristics, wind pressures, tuning, voicing, scaling, site finishing, eight full-pages of exquisite colour plates and photographs of their leading organists. …

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