Organ competition, masterclasses, concerts and »Arp-Schnitger-Prize«
August 18 – 31, 2014

Bremen in the centre of the richest organ region of Europe

Bremen is situated at the centre of region with the largest number of historical organs in Europe. Over a period of 500 years, an organ culture developed at the coast and along Elbe, Weser and Ems rivers. There is no other place in the world where as many instruments and registers from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods have been preserved.

In the churches in Altenbruch and Lüdingworth (near Cuxhaven) alone, which are only four kilometres apart, almost 70 registers with over 3800 pipes from the time between 1500 and 1730 survived. In the East Frisian coastal region between Emden and Norden, known as the “Crumhorn”, we find the highest concentration of Gothic instruments that are still sounding outside the big Hanseatic cities. The Renaissance façades of St. Martini, St. Ansgari and in the Focke Museum in Bremen are of special importance, since there is no other city in Germany, where Renaisssance façades of this quality and size been preserved. Each church in the “Old Land” between Hamburg and Stade still contains a historical organ or a richly ornamented organ façade.

The most important European organ builder of the Baroque, Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), hailed from the marsh areas of the Weser River. Today, the Arp Schnitger Center is situated in this area, in Brake-Golzwarden, beside the church in which Schnitger was baptised. The Arp Schnitger Association is building an information and study centre for North German organ culture in this town.

Four of the best-preserved Schnitger organs are found in the areas surrounding Bremen and Bremerhaven, in the towns of Cappel, Dedesdorf, Ganderkesee and Grasberg. The instruments in Cappel and Grasberg were originally found in Hamburg, and they represent the typical Hanseatic city organ. They were played by the most famous North German organists, in Hamburg, around 1700.

In the mid-twentieth century, the Bach recordings made by Helmut Walcha in Cappel (Deutsche Grammophon) became the first globally successful organ records.

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