Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World's Largest Hanging Organ for Regensburg Cathedral

This Sunday, the Bishop of Regensburg, Bavaria, the city so beloved by both the Holy Father (his house and the tomb of his parents are there) and his brother (who was chapel master, Domkapellmeister, of Regensburg Cathedral for 30 years), consecrated a new organ for Regensburg Cathedral. This is actually the first "real" organ the splendid Cathedral of Regensburghas ever had, and it is the largest and heaviest hanging organ in the world. Here is the NLM translation of an article from a regional newspaper, the Passauer Neue Presse:

Faithful Applaud Their New Cathedral Organ / In Regensburg, the largest and heaviest hanging organ in the world was inaugurated yesterday

By Karl Birkenseer, Regensburg

With sustained applause the new cathedral organ of Regensburg has been welcomed by 3000 faithful in the Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter. Before, the largest and heaviest hanging organ in the world had been blessed within Pontifical Vespers by Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller. The instrument built by the company Rieger from Vorarlberg has more than 80 playable ranks and 5871 pipes.

"Bless this our new cathedral organ so that it may resound to Your glory and elevate our hearts to You." With these words the Bishop of Regensburg proceded to consecrate the organ. Only after that the instrument placed on the north wall of the transept had its sounding premiere. A dark, warm and powerful sound that the current, small-sized choir organ had not produced, filled the room.

For Müller the organ premiere offered a double occasion of joy. Exactly on Christ the King's Day seven years ago, he was ordained a bishop in the same place. The organ construction project which he pursued with great consistency represents for Regensburg Cathedral according to Müller "a culminating high point in its service to the glory of God and the sanctification of men".

The Chief Shepherd recalled in his sermon the important status which the Second Vatican Council had attributed to church music. By promoting "conscious, full and active participation of the whole Church in the liturgy", "the singing of God's people and of the choirs" proved to be "fundamental elements of Divine worship in its most solemn form". To these, as the "third in the league," was added the organ. With the consecration of the new Regensburg cathedral organ for worship, the famous dictum of composer Franz Liszt's of Regensburg as the "capital of Catholic Church music" became an obligation and a challenge: "With the trias Domspatzen [NLM note: the "Cathedral Sparrows", Regensburg's famous boys' choir, of which the Pope's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, was choir master for decades], Catholic College of Sacred Music and now the Regensburg cathedral organ, the episcopal city of Regensburg lives up to that reputation - today, but also for the future."

Bishop Müller thanked the many people and institutions that had made possible with their donations the construction of the instrument. So far 1.2 million of the total of 1.7 million euros which the organ costs have been collected.
Among the 3,000 faithful who participated in the vespers, the new organ was a success. Cathedral organist Franz Josef Stoiber thanked admirers yesterday evening with an organ concert that brought all the colours of the instrument to blossom - with works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Olivier Messiaen, Charles-Marie Vidor, and Louis Vierne.

For those who want to know more (and possibly contribute), there is a dedicated webpage for the new organ, which also has an English summary.

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