The Schulze Dynasty: Organ Builders, 1688-1880

Article excerpt

BOOKS THE SCHULZE DYNASTY: ORGAN BUILDERS, 1688-1880, Bryan Hughes. Foreword 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 organist Francis Jackson, paints a vivid picture of the "distinctive voice of Schulze" that transformed English practice with Germaninspired innovations, along with Willis, Schnitger, and Silbermann, contemporaries of the Schulze firm. The preface energizes, motivates, and defines areas of historical concern, and clarifies the great impact Schulze made in England, a "musical enlightenment" that led to many commissions, including the huge five-manual organ in Doncaster Parish Church in 1862.

The first chapter's 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, La., 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 age 27 was invited by Prince Albert to exhibit an organ at the 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 Saint-Denis and the Madeleine, as well as the Schulze organs in Weimar, Loitz, Lübeck, Halberstadt, Halle, Gotha, Heringen, Berlin, Wessenfels, Verden, Westphalia, Bremen, Diisseldorf, Alperbach-Dortmund, and Paulinzella with their characteristic stop nomenclature, i.e., Gedactbass, Hohleflöte, Lieblich Gedact, Gambe, Geigenprincipal, Posaune, Flauto traverse, 2' Mixture V, 2' Scharf III, 1' Gymbel III, and a 2[fraction two-third]' Quinte/2' 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 color plates, and photographs of their leading organists. …